The past five days have been harder than expected. A dog only lives in the present tense, which means the greyhound is not fully aware of having lost her tail. But that also means that every time she moves she’s surprised by the pain. The greyhound is a screamer. Some might call it a cry, but to me it sounds like a scream. It is high pitched, it is piercing, and it immediately reminds me of seeing her pinned underneath the Jeep. I am trapped in my house with a randomly screaming animal. My joy at seeing Barack Obama elected 44th President was tempered by the grotesque results of California’s passing of Prop 8. Which means the last week has been highs countered by lows in a peak and valley graph that would kill someone if it were an EKG of their heart.
I tried to leave the house once to get some lunch with a friend. We were gone about an hour. When we got home the greyhound had licked her stump bloody, which necessitated getting an Elizabethan collar. Now she screams every time the collar bangs against something. Cleaning her with peroxide is like operating on a time bomb, waiting for the piercing screams in pain that I feel like I am inflicting upon her. In the great ironies of my week as I was taking the girls out for a walk yesterday afternoon, workers fixing up my apartment building were painting the stairway to my apartment. They’ve removed the rear stairs so I cannot use my back door, and as I was leaving for a walk they were painting me into my home. I told them I would be gone for a half an hour, and while I was gone they painted the stairs leaving a narrow strip for me to return. I got home, tried to guide my dogs upstairs without tracking paint into the house, and they proceeding to literally paint me into a corner. I was trapped mentally and physically.
That night I was invited to go to a birthday party for my tattoo artist friend out in Hollywood. My wife gave me permission to go, she had a lot of homework to do. (The stairway paint had dried by the time she got home.) I made it as far as 1.5 miles in my car before I turned around and went home. I wasn’t scared of driving, or traffic; it wasn’t fear that gripped me. It was exhaustion. I couldn’t muster the energy to go and be social, even though the real purpose of my leaving was to drink. I’ve been riding the Tequila bus to numbville for a few nights and it’s both helped and hindered my own recovery. I returned home and watched TV while assembling photo albums. Another irony – hiding in my home reconstructing the past.
I wonder if I’m being melodramatic. For days now I’ve said how lucky we all were that we walked away from the accident. The only permanent damage was the greyhound losing a tail, which some people do for cosmetic reasons all the time. (Our vet said they removed his tail after his first bike accident and he’s doing fine without it.) I was banged up and bruised, but we’re not broken. All three of us are pretty jumpy on our walks together and the big dog hates crossing intersections and cars revving their engines. I guess she doesn’t completely live in the present tense. I am aware that the process of my own healing involves getting out riding again, movement, activity, and freedom. I suppose this is what is meant under the blanket term “pain and suffering”. I have lost days of work because of the after effects of the accident. I’m behind on several projects, doing what I can when I can, but the time bomb in the other room requires a lot of maintenance. And yet, a sore back, some road rash, and a bruised hip are the only physical signs of human collateral damage. The devaluing of experience and minimalization of pain are not just tools I use as an athlete, they’re part of who I am. What else is this but trauma?
I was supposed to start my season this week, that has been delayed. We were supposed to start a new chapter in this country’s rebirth, but it has been delayed in California by the bigotry in the passing of prop 8. I truly believe that religion poisons everything. What else explains the irony of having an incredibly motivated surge of black voters for Obama and simultaneously against the civil rights of same sex couples? A vote for change? It was a vote for Jim Crow laws. Just as there should be no greater advocate for the victims of genocide than Israel (and they’re not), there should be no greater advocates for equal rights than African-Amercans. We are all wounded. Israelis operate out of nationwide PTSD. They cannot advocate for global victims of genocide because they are continually traumatized by the aftereffects of their own aggression. I suppose many African-Americans cannot vote for same-sex unions because the church has filled the leadership vacuum that their government didn’t for so many years. Their churches provided a safety net, their churches provided a moral center, and their churches reflected their demographics far more than their government ever did. Which means it’s going to take a generation of people who grow up with a trustworthy, representative government to obviate the church. That’s the only way I can see real change happening for a populace.
Somewhere, for all of us, there is a path to reconciling our wounds.