The first time I fell – and I mean really fell – I was eighteen and volunteering rebuilding hiking trails at a state park in Tennessee. It was a mid-summer evening, sweltering and humid, and we were racing down the trail to throw ourselves in the river and wash away the day’s work. I didn’t see a root protruding into the trail, and suddenly I was on the ground, my ankle immediately swollen to the size of a softball. Thanks to my exceptional capacity for loud bellowing, which, incidentally, only activates when I’m injured, within a few seconds everyone else in a three mile radius knew that I’d fallen, too.
Unfortunately we were three miles from the car and dusk was already starting to fall. The group leader, an earthy, nurturing twenty-something with a soft voice and worn-through Carhartts, fashioned a splint for me from a sapling she cut down, lashing it to my ankle with vines and leaves. The two men in the group eased me to standing, and we proceeded to literally hop the three miles to the car, one on each side of me supporting me like human crutches. We arrived at the emergency room around 3 am, seven hours after the fall.
A few years later I was working at a summer camp, where we’d entertain the campers by putting on skits, musicals, and comedy shows on the rustic outdoor stage. One evening the show involved us all running out from backstage and jumping off the stage into the audience, but the person in front of me just jumped off and then stood still, and I came crashing into him, twisting my ankle again. I hopped off to the side in pain, yelling “shit! shit!” while the young audience gasped at my language, their mouths in little “o”s, eyebrows high.
In my late twenties, hiking on top of a mountain in Maine, I misstepped as I hopped onto a rock, rolling my ankle once again. Losing my balance, I slowly toppled into a low, spiny shrub, once again calling upon my vocal capacity to scream into the wind, this time the word “fuck!” being my expletive of choice.
Just last year, you guessed it, I rolled that same ankle yet again. We’d hiked fifteen miles that day, our bodies tired from the exertion and mellowed from the red wine we were drinking. We lay in the dark on a little wooden deck next to the river, singing softly into the night sky, our voices mingling with the gentle rush of the water over the rocks. Not wanting to disturb the hushed and heavy mellowness of our bodies and minds on the walk back to the campsite, we turned off our headlamps to be guided by the light of the moon as we walked along the wooded road. Maybe it was the dark, or maybe it was the wine, but I wandered too close to the side of the road and soon found myself lying in a little ditch, leaves in my hair like a wild one. This time I sprained it twice – rolling it once to the left, and once to the right. That night I shivered in my camp chair by the campfire, shaking from pain and shock and disbelief.
So the cumulation of all of these falls is what I face now, with surgery to provide the internal support for my ankle that I wore away through my repeated sprains. I’m facing two weeks in bed and then months of crutches and walking boots, plus more months of physical therapy. Six months, they say, until I’m hiking and running again. Though, of course, I’m remaining abstinent from alcohol for a while (I’m past the point in my life where pain meds and booze seem like an intriguing combination), maybe you can raise this one for me to help speed my recovery, so that someday soon I can continue to put life and limb in danger once more through outdoor physical activity (since, it seems, I cannot be trusted to hike successfully and without incident).
Corpse Reviver #2
1 oz gin
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz fresh lemon juice
rinse of absinthe or herbsaint
Pour a little absinthe into a coupe glass and roll it around to coat the inside. Shake out the rest. Shake all of the remaining ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into the glass. Garnish wish an orange peel, then imbibe and rise again!
(Cass thinks it looks good, too)