If only there had been a video camera present—I would have gone viral on YouTube. Imagine. I am exiting my car, heel catches, I plunge to the concrete—along with the gallon of milk, pint of Dulce de Leche and cell phone I’m holding—full weight on my left elbow. I lie there in a pond of milk sobbing in agony as I try desperately to stretch my functioning arm far enough to push my phone out of the milk (you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do when your contract isn’t up yet). Not a pretty picture…but funny…in retrospect.
This clumsy episode, which required surgery and the insertion of a plate and some pins in my elbow, has unfortunately delayed my trip to the Balkans. But only by a couple of weeks—so now I am back to planning. HOWEVER I am discovering a sense of vulnerability never experienced before. Having only broken a toe in lo these many years who knew I was breakable in more profound ways.
I question the doc, ‘I will be able to lift my bag into the overhead in a month won’t I?’ ‘Oh, I think so’ he responds. I take that to mean for sure and move forward with changing my airline reservations. But there is just the smallest doubt in my mind…
Tripping through the streets of old Europe—I think tripping, as in stumbling forward, possibly all the way to the ground, instead of walking with a happy spring in my step. Dark and mysterious border crossings in the middle of the night—I think extra bag lifting and walking instead of ‘oh yeah, I need this experience in case I ever write a spy novel.’ Jostling crowds of weekend evening celebrants—I think, ouch, what if somebody hits my elbow too hard instead of ‘just look how all of these religiously diverse Bosnians are happily partying together in the streets….’
But mostly I am healthy and practically INvulnerable and will be fine over there:
- My stomach always feels good when I eat yogurt—which was invented by Bulgarians.
- Throughout the Balkans there is a plum liqueur called Slivovitz, part of a category of drinks called Rakia—which sounds like a better nightcap than the pain pills I’ve been on.
- And there is the strange but true fact that my stomach NEVER hurts when I eat a lot doughnuts and I am almost positive Chisinau has a Dunkin’ Donuts.
- I can go on 12-hour bus rides and never need the loo or le toilette or bathroom or whatever the facilities will be called in Macedonia.
- Sleeping in shabby hotel rooms is okay as long as they do not smell like they’re more than a few hundred years old AND I think I will have a Kindle (more about that later) so I can read even if there are no light bulbs!
Writing oneself out of vulnerability is a good thing—if not necessarily realistic. Actually experience has taught me that most people are—one on one—decent, welcoming and helpful. It is only when religion or politics enter the picture that the dark irrational scary cruel tendencies come into play—among us all. On with the show then!