Carnival is the biggest, craziest, most well-attended event of the summer. The crowds are fun and unaffected. The faux Mardi Gras theme always inspires grumbles and extreme creativity. Big, little, young, old, gay, straight, Townie, tourist all party together. It is a supposedly wonderful week.
I’ve never liked it.
And yesterday proved no different.
I arose early to cast off any past Carnival demons, picked up a bagel at Farland -the local all-in-one grocery and made a beeline to Meg and Mo’s to help them decorate for their annual Carnival Party, a lovely benefit for the local art museum. I saw several friends as well as my landlord en route to the store. People were pleasant and the town had an expectant hum about it.
I arrived at the Girls’ house and got to work. Nathan and Terry were already there and we set about hanging the many decorative items Meg and Mo had purchased to deck the house according to the “Can’t Stop the Music” theme.
We made good progress. I took on the task of hanging LPs and CDs from the porch ceiling. One after another, I climbed the ladder and ensured the ancient music media were well hung.
The ladder only caused me minor delay as I stopped to move it and reconnect its collapsible pieces.
And then it happened.
As I scooted the ladder, on whose last rung I was standing, over to hang the next trinket, its not-connected parts gave way and I found myself falling. Falling through a void of which I knew not where or how I would land.
I was extremely coherent of the fact that there was not longer anything supporting my weight. I was exactly clear on what just transpired. And I fell.
And I seemed to fall for minutes.
I remember thinking clearly and calmly about what was going to happen next. Was I going to meet the ground on the other side of the porch, some 9 feet away and quickly approaching? Was my head going to be split by the rickety antique bench I had hastily moved? How would my spine actually connect with the 3-inch wide railing and would it remain intact?
Then my brain went blank and I think instinct took over. The wincing pain of hitting the rail with the lower Lats and upper waist area of my right side jarred me into the reality. At some point, I think I rolled, extending my right arm to break my fall and in doing so, saved my body from permanent, debilitating damage.
And it all took place in a matter of meer moments. Not even two seconds.
Aside from the embarrassment and the pain of the fall, I was genuinely frightened. The thoughts and questions I asked myself while airborne are still disturbing. My summer came crashing down with me. The potential and promise of striking out on my own and starting my life anew rushed up to meet me like the bushes and the deck railing below. It all hung motionless for a millisecond.
I assume and trust that the lessons of my fall are to make sure the foundation on which I stand is firm. Then to be careful, be creative and trust the instincts that may from time to time take over. To trust my history. And then, of course, to listen to lessons that you are taught daily and listen closely.