Not everyone can be blessed with the rare athletic talent of falling off one’s own two feet. Some may say I was born with it, an innate grace that allows me to injure myself in the most unique situations. Like that time I was benched from the basketball season with a middle finger splint. Awesome. Who in college tears their trapezius muscle falling backwards over a bookbag? This girl. A rare allergic reaction of the sclera from a bug flying in my eye mid-run? Check. I collect splinters and paper cuts like other people collect baseball cards and stamps. If there is a lego to step on, it’s got my name on it. Three years ago, I spent two months in a boot after partially tearing a ligament in my foot while running….or doing a Bikram yoga pose. To this day, I’m not sure which one did me in.
If there was a scholarship for random injuries, I would have gotten a full ride. So when I managed to get my latest dent, it reminded me, yet again, of my impeccable elegance. I was a tenth of a mile away from finishing up one of my best four mile night runs in recent memory when I bit it hard on the pavement. It didn’t even register that I was falling, which is why my hands never even attempted to save my face. Or maybe they were just tired of always having to catch me. So here I am with an orbital fracture, which makes for one ugly looking black eye that I keep forgetting I have until people give me those really sad looks. The shoulder I shredded I am more aware of because it now takes me twenty minutes to put on a shirt.
My family has come to accept this special trait of mine…sort of. When I called my mom to tell her I fell running, she simply said, “Again?” Then, in her thick Italian accent warned me, “Running is DANGER…why you do?” Now I know Mama Setaro doesn’t think running in general is dangerous per se, but because it requires ME to be on my feet moving at a speed faster than walking – and there is pavement involved – she finds that hazardous. She never did find the right size bubble to put me in as a kid. My sister’s response was, “Is that the story you’re sticking with…because for someone who likes to write that’s pretty lame.” She’s right, my explanation probably should have involved a bike, a bear and a baby that needed rescuing. Falling off of something with wheels while doing something heroic is far more exciting.
I can own that I’m not the most graceful athlete. Some of my closest friends were college athletes. I even married one. I’ve been to enough of their lacrosse, soccer and baseball games to know that my skills are in making very cool signs and cheering them on. No one can compete with my spectatorship. I got the memo that talent like that doesn’t come easy for me. I have learned over the years of attempting athletic feats from basketball and soccer to running and yoga that I am not what one would call a “natural” athlete. But as I ice my face once again I am reminded that after every fall, black eye, stubbed toe and torn something or other, I have been able to dust the road off of me and start again.
So I will keep working on this art form most people call standing on two feet, knowing that my true grace might not be in falling a lot but in getting up every time I do.