Before the World Trade Center was associated with a tragic event, it was best known for being the tallest building in the world. Friends of mine had gone home to England for the summer and asked me to stay in their loft just blocks away from the gleaming towers. This wasn’t a neighborhood yet. It hadn’t become Tribeca. The blocks surrounding the Twin Towers were a series of disparate shops and small restaurants. No coin operated laundries, no supermarkets, and no dry cleaners. Subways belched people from their stations Monday through Friday, but after five o’clock there were very few people on the streets, and even fewer on weekends. Abandoned factories were just beginning to be rented and purchased as personal residences. I planned to spend the summer living in a former shoe factory.
Early on a Saturday morning I’d gone out to run. In the shadow of the World Trade Center I collapsed to my knees in agonizing pain, and have no memory of how I got back to the loft, or how I got to the emergency room of a hospital in Brooklyn where I grew up.The pain was caused by my fallopian tube wrapping around my uterus. Having never been given “the talk” by my mother, I had no idea where those two body parts were located, or how they functioned. Nowadays a five year old child could probably walk us through a detailed lecture on the reproductive system, but it was different then.
That first surgery strangled my daily life and brazenly interrupted what should have been a summer to remember. That summer was unforgettable, but not for the reasons I’d envisioned. Despite my strong and healthy outward appearance, ignorant that my anatomy is structurally weak, this would not be my last surgery. Over the ensuing decades different parts of my body would weaken, needing to repaired surgically. My anatomical flaw has caused me to abandon plans over and over again, pain immediately and unrepentantly demanding that I refocus my attention on recovery for months at a time.
This summer marks eighteen years since my divorce. Born a Jew, although not observant, I’m going to embrace the Jewish traditional belief which distinguishes the number eighteen as lucky. Through no fault of my own, my anatomy has always been fragile and delicate, appearances notwithstanding. But it was my heart really that has withstood breaking again and again. Finally my wounds from a long unhappy marriage and brutal custody battle, wherein my three daughters went to live with their father have scarred over, enabling me to move on. All three of my children and I have developed close and loving relationships.
My most recent surgery took me out of the game again for a few months. To regain strength and retrain muscles, my doctor prescribed physical therapy. It’s a challenge to learn new ways of doing things that have been repeated for years, but it’s doable with practice. Using that theory as my guide for more than just my physicality, I don’t put myself in the same positions I once did to have my heart broken. I’ll probably never have any warning of what could physically need repair again, and while no one can ever predict the outcome of interactions between people, I look more carefully at what I’m really seeing now, as my heart will be forever fragile.
Raw Reflection: Are the best decisions made using love or logic?
Read more about losing custody of my girls: http://rawcandor.com/the-last-laugh/
I’m so happy to be writing Raw again after an unanticipated prolonged medical absence. A new Raw Candor page is up. “Likes” from the previous page couldn’t be transferred. Please take a moment to visit the new page.Raw Candor (Community).
And to my many friends, colleagues and fellow artists, the category d-RAW has been added to the re-designed Raw site. It gives storytellers the opportunity to share visual work to tell their story. Everybody has a one – I invite you to share yours. See submission guidelines.
The Raw re-design still needs to be tweaked. The PayPal button is missing from the SHOP page. The ring I designed and wear will be available for purchase soon. Thanks for your continued patience.
“His True Colors” by Judy Polstra. http://judypolstra.com/
Superimposed version of “His True Colors” edited by me.