He was the son of our neighbors at the time, only a year older to my 13, a man worthy of my secret crushing. He was the cool one, always at the gym, always busy, always with his equally cool friends while I ate twinkies and chips, and coveted from afar in my knee high socks, awkward shorts, puffy hair and glasses covering half of my face always slipping forward.
As a child, I would have followed him anywhere and on one unfortunate day, I did just this. He said we should go across the street to the store (where they sold twinkies), and so I scrambled to pull up my socks and follow. I was so excited, maybe my new terry-cloth shorts had caught his attention with their white piping accentuating the skin between their bottom and the tops of my socks.
If I had had a Twitter then, I would have wrote: EEEEEEEEEEP! ♥ ♥ ♥
As we were about to cross the street, we noticed the You Should Not Cross But If You’re Already Crossing Then Please Move Yer Ass hand signal had begun to flash. He said we could make it and so began to run. Naturally, I followed, only was incapable of running as fast as him because my glasses were fogged and bouncing, my socks were falling and my hair was getting bigger with every gram of humidity, weighing me down.
He made it to the median though sadly, I did not.
I made it to the pavement as I had been hit by a car.
Thanks God I wasn’t run over, but merely knocked over, and so what could have been complete devastation was just a broken femur. Cue 5 weeks of traction in a hospital bed, 6 months inside of a body cast, 2 years of physio therapy to complete the cycle, my parents staying together longer than they should have because of this trauma to the seedling they planted and reaped together.
Looking back on this story, I admit that I am not entirely shocked by my behaviour. I have never seen the cars as representing the danger and lunacy of a situation; instead, I have always, and continue to see the possibility represented by the man.
Although this still holds true, that I will run into traffic if I feel that the right man is leading, there has recently been a shift in me. Before, maybe as near as some months ago, I would run out randomly like I had water on the brain, not thinking twice if the man was worthy, or if he had proven himself as someone who would hold my hand and run alongside me, rather than leave me open and vulnerable to on-coming traffic.
The two loves I have lived have been incredible men, and from both I have learned an enormous amount. But, neither one ran with me, instead bolting half-way and then running back to the original sidewalk while I kept moving forward babbling to myself gleefully. Truth is, and while the women in my life lived my recovery of these situations, I would not trade either of these moments for anything, and though I never thought I would say this, I would live them again in a heartbeat to land at here and today.
Because to love strong and fierce, you have to be willing to take the hits just as fiercely. In this, there is strength in the ability to still stay vulnerable and open to love in the most awkward and unlikely and absolutely ridiculous moments of impossibility. Playing in traffic has given me bruises I stare at in wonder and fascination still. They are engaged and active markers of my growing pains as a woman, and they are a sign that I am not sitting on my ass safely on the sidewalk never living for fear of hurting.
Finally, I will say that the women I love are of this same caliber; runners playing in the middle of streets filled with on-coming traffic. Truth be told, they are the more interesting of the bunch. As I have never been a fan of cream-coloured skin soft as a newborn’s bottom covered in talcum, I am sending this as a love letter to each of the women still playing in traffic; still believing in love; still opening their hearts with abandon; still believing that there remain a few good men with character and integrity and enough love to give them what they deserve; still believing that the pain really is worth the love-fall. May you each find your regular booty-call in the middle of the streets (but not in, like, a hooking sitch), and may the men who are smart and blessed enough to scoop you, have the strength to keep you.
You are each and every one of you my heroins.
Photo from JennuMayam Tumblr.