January 29, 2016

Reclaiming My Identity: Part One of a Two-Part Series By Jennifer Crystal

10 Top Myths About Lyme Disease
January 29, 2016

Reclaiming My Identity: Part One of a Two-Part Series By Jennifer Crystal

This week, my creative writing students read Taylor Mali’s poem “Tony Steinberg, Brave Seventh Grade Viking Warrior”.

We then wrote our own poems, mirroring Mali’s “Have you ever…?” style. What would yours be? Here’s mine:

Never Say Never

Have you ever skied a bunny hill
like it was an Olympic mogul run?
Looked down it
and wondered,
Can I make it?

I have. And it was a terrifying thing.

It was also a beautiful thing.

A beautiful day
Sunny, forty degrees
Big puffy clouds, bright sky—
A bluebird day,
we used to say
in my old Colorado life.

When I lived there I scoffed at bunny hills
at East Coast skiing
“I’ll never ski there again!”
I zipped for hours through
powder that swished and sushed off my skis
like fairy dust.

Have you ever
cycled thirty seconds on a stationary bike
only to be felled by a migraine?
Felt a thick syrup of spirochetes spiraling through your body,
Swarming around your brain,
Slowing your forward motion like mud?

I have. And it was maddening.

I’ve laid in bed for days
To finally get back to physical therapy and
cycle thirty seconds on a stationary bike
Again.

And then forty-five seconds.
A minute.
A minute fifteen.
A minute thirty—

Another migraine.
Another week in bed.

Another several weeks to
cycle thirty seconds on a stationary bike
And start again
And again
And again—

Working up to
cycling twelve minutes on a stationary bike
Yanking pulleys and
Weights
Stretching
Squatting
Lifting

Until one fine day
my physical therapist said,
“We’re working towards skiing, you know.”

Have you ever cried at the sound of such words?
Because what you heard was, We’re working towards you, you know.
The you who
Lived
Breathed
Skiing as a way of life.

I have. And it was one of the best moments of my life.
Next to actually gazing up that East Coast bunny hill
after successfully skiing it
Swishing
Sushing
Feeling
Legs pulsing
Oxygen coursing
Tears running
Heart singing
for the first time since being
silenced by sickness—

Looking up that mountain and thinking,
I conquered that.
I am back.

I have. And you will, too.

Preload