26 June 2012

The planting of the face


So my family and I go on a 2.5 mile hike at Pinnacles on our way to San Francisco. 'Tis a long trek. Once we're out of the caves, the trail is mostly uphill. Wanting to be done as quickly as possible, I begin to jog up the mountain, shouting, "Soldier on! We are troopers!"

My brother begins to jog behind me. "Hut! Hut! Hut!" he hollers.

"I am hutting!" I shout back at him.

"You're gonna fall," he warns.

I soldier on. Foolishly.

Up ahead, some jagged rocks form a small crevice. I consciously tell myself to place my foot between the rocks where it's flat as I continue to run.

All of a sudden  and I swear to Finland, this is how it went down  the rocks reach out and grab my leg, slamming me to the ground.

It happens in slow motion, my panicked inner monologue in real time: "Oh my god I'm falling. I'm going to eat shit. I'll fall over the edge of the mountain. And these assholes are going to make fun of me."

I throw my arms out. My forearms and knees slam into the rocks. For a few seconds I lie very still, stunned and stinging while my family reacts. My brother and my mom rush over to see if I'm alright. I look back along the trail to my dad, several meters behind us. He holds up the camera, snapping pictures.

My brother quickly helps me up, although I would like to continue resting on the ground. I've grazed a bit of skin off my palm, it's dirty and bleeding. I hold it up in awe: my very own battle wound.

My mom retrieves her small first aid kit, the one we'd rolled our eyes at her for bringing. She rinses the dirt out of the cuts from my hands to my elbows and applies antibiotic ointment and band-aids while my dad comes closer to take more pictures.

I'm still shell-shocked. But I turn to him and hold up my bandaged arms, a (wound-) decorated soldier.