After The Fall

On August 25, 2007, I decided to make chili. I thought I had all the ingredients I needed, but it turned out I was missing an onion, so I made a quick trip to the store for that one item.

I remember this because it was supposed to be a special day, and it was. It was the one-year anniversary of my first day in a loooong time without drinking, and while that particular day doesn’t mean a lot to me in general, the first year felt special. It felt like chili, at least.

So I grabbed my onion from the bin and headed to checkout, but first I had to turn a corner. Where someone had conveniently left one of those plastic shopping baskets, on the floor, hidden from view until a guy with an onion turned the corner and hit it with his foot.

Many things happened, none of which are hard to imagine. I was at the time over 260 pounds, a roly-poly guy, and gravity was not in a mood to negotiate. My foot got tangled, I tried to compensate, I failed, and the fat guy took a spill in the grocery store.

It turned out OK. I filed a report with the store manager, just in case, but I had a bruise and some sore muscles, all of which were minor and didn’t require medical attention. It was just a fall, awkward and embarrassing but ultimately not worth remembering.

But the day, and the chili, and so on. I remember, although I hadn’t thought of it in years. Since I didn’t know at the time if I’d injured myself in a significant but as-yet-unknown way, I remember thinking that security camera footage would be interesting. I assumed there was such a thing. I’m pretty sure there was.

I just don’t know if there still is. Not worth mentioning except I had a thought: What if it turned out to be actually a funny video? One that some security person clipped and saved, to share with friends? I’d probably watch it. No harm done, and who can resist a fat man falling?

It just struck me today as an interesting visual aid to the future. Here I was, marking a year of better health, better everything (except waistline; I’d gained about 30 pounds that summer), and fate and chance were letting me know the path ahead wasn’t necessarily going to be smooth.

I’d have a good year after that, lots of movement, fortifying myself (I think, now) for the rockiness that would soon come. And in 2010, my wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor and we were off to the races. No health insurance, looming brain surgery and multiple MRIs, and of course the heart attack and breast cancer to follow. Rockier, as I said.

So it makes sense that my first mention in this blog about a water line leak was that summer, the summer when money started disappearing and never came back. That helps explain, at least to me, why I kept kicking the can down the road, fixing leaks every couple of years, knowing that line was crumbling but seeing no way I could to afford to replace it.

Yesterday it got replaced, anyway. It was anticlimactic, thanks to technology. A new generation of PVC-like material produced a pipe that can be shoved underground with a bore and delivered, without additional fittings in the middle, the 190 feet from the street to my house, under my neighbor’s yard, driveway, and fence. Not even a ripple in the sod. It took about six hours, start to finish, including cutting out a square of concrete in my garage.

The water seems and tastes cleaner; hard to say what’s my imagination and what’s real about that. I’ve got water, though, and went another $8500 in debt, a drop in the bucket but a drop that I have to think about.

And what I think is this: I don’t think God, or the universe in general, is picking on me. Water lines break. Unexpected expenses are part of owning a house. The piper eventually needs to get paid, and so on.

I’m left, then, with gratitude that my wife is alive. I’ll pay for that.

Just a bruise.
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