Grace is not my middle name. My stocky feet (size 10, thank you very much) have solidly planted me in Earth for over twenty-three years. But, inevitably, they have also warred against my body as agents of destruction. I’ve been accustomed to stubbing my toe, running into tables, and tripping on stairs – both up and down – for almost as long as these feet have been mine.
Which leads me to my earliest memory.
It was a lovely Fall day, as I recall, at the Methodist preschool I attended. Though my parents are die-hard Baptists, all my siblings and I have attended Methodist preschools. (For their pedagogy, perhaps?) Like any preschooler, I had a knack for exploring. This particular Fall day, I had explored my way behind the mulch pile right up the playground wall. Though only 3 foot high, conquering this wall was a feat of Everest proportion.
Thinking very highly of myself and my abilities, I thought I’d explore a bit more. Placing the metaphoric flag on my Mt. Everest just wasn’t enough. Recently I had attended a circus and thought the tightrope walkers were especially fascinating. Why not use this perfect opportunity, a death-defying 3 feet above the ground, to choreographic a tightrope routine of my own?
As I mentioned, this was a playground wall. The side meant to corral us kids was feathered with mulch and soft indoor/outdoor foam underneath. The other side opened to a concrete parking lot. As I masterfully extended my chubby three-year-old foot and attempted to point my toe, something went awry.
With one stocky foot extended, my center of gravity was altered. My body failed to compensate. I tumbled off the wall face first. not on the mulch side of things. Smack! My pudgy cheek whammed into the concrete parking lot. Scrrrrape. The momentum of my body continued to push me forward.
As with all traumatic events, we rarely comprehend the full extent of our injuries until some passerby gawks at the scene we had just been a participant of and screams, “O my gosh!” with a face as contorted as, well, apparently mine was. Quickly I was transported to the closest sink and watched, helplessly, out of the corner of my eye as my life’s blood poured down the drain.
Miraculously stitches were not required.
Though a massive bandage from the First-Aid kit probably reserved for burn victims was. (And my parents’ acceptance that their little darling would have a swollen smile for Picture Day.)
And that, my friends, is my earliest memory.