Laura and I moved back home yesterday. Last night was my first night back in our own bed since the accident — it’s been almost 4 weeks.
Returning home was a little eerie, due to a number of things. For one, there are artifacts of the accident stored around the house: in our garage, we have the helmet I was wearing when I got hit: it sports a few significant gouges and a whole bunch of lesser abrasions, scrapes, and dings. The visor is scratched and broken off. Even Laura’s helmet, which was in the scooter’s storage area under the driver’s seat, was thrown out of the scooter and bashed up as it rolled around.
We also have my clothes from the accident, in a big plastic hospital bag. My jeans and fleece have neat slices down the front, and now look like some kind of human-shaped blanket, or clothing for a really fat two-dimensional person. My fleece is scratched and ripped in a number of places, and my shoes have scary-looking scrapes and gouges all over them, I have no idea from what.
All in all, the clothes and gear I was wearing that day speak of the violence of what happened; nobody’s clothes should end up looking like these do: scraped, torn, cut, smashed, broken. It’s terrible to think I was inside them 4 weeks ago.
Another disturbing set of things are all the little ways in which the house is the way Laura and I left it almost a month ago when we set out to go to the Experience Music Project with my brother. Of course, I didn’t make it back from that trip.
I found the hiking maps I had printed out before I left work on Friday May 14th, the day before the accident, thinking that my brother may like to go camping with us. I found mail that had arrived that day and that I had put aside to look at when we got home. I found notes on bits of paper about matters now long since resolved, or cancelled, or rescheduled.
But layered on top of all these reminders was the strange experience of returning to my house profoundly different. Laura has to “spot” me, for the moment, when I go up and down stairs, to make sure I don’t fall. We’ve creatively replaced the shower doors in our bathroom with a curtain so the tub is easier to get into. I still haven’t been to the loft office because it’s an extra flight of stairs and each trip up or down costs a lot of energy. The cats are afraid of my crutches. I worry about slipping on our area rugs, which we don’t have pads for. I can’t do basic chores like vacuum (continually necessary in our house) or tidy up.
It’s a strange thing to suddenly be a visitor in your own home; I’m suddenly not sure how, or am just unable, to perform many basic tasks.
This is not to say that I’m not glad to be home. For one thing, I’m glad we were able to give Buck and Chesty their life back — we will always be grateful to them for being so tremendously welcoming to us when we needed help the most.
Also, since our house is multi-level, with smaller rooms, I’ve been getting around exclusively on crutches, which is a good step forward from using the wheelchair. I’ve gotten mobile enough to switch chairs, lie on the couch and watch TV, and generally pretend I don’t have a snapped thighbone. My main problem these days revolves around Timmy the cat’s incorrigible tendency to jump on my broken leg. I have to be continually vigilent and exploit his fear of my crutches to keep his little misguided affections from causing me pain.
It is comforting to see the cats again; they are their usual mischievous, sneaky, maddening, affectionate selves. Maybe even a little more so, since they seem terribly lonely.
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.