Grieving, pasta and an ankle brace

It’s been close to a month now since I fell while crossing a bridge in Honduras and messed up my ankle — a month of ice packs and the walking boot and “Could you slow down a bit? I can’t walk that fast.” A month of waiting for my life to get back to normal.

A little more than a week ago, the doctor gave me permission to start transitioning out of the infamous boot and into an ankle brace. I’d been waiting for that day since the X-rays two weeks before, the day I had envisioned as the one where I would spring out of my boot and stroll across campus like I owned the place. But as I started walking on my own two feet again, I quickly realized that there would be no springing. Mostly, there has been a lot of limping. I probably have another week or so until I’m walking completely normally again.

I get a little better every day, but the process is slow going. Every time I try to push myself too hard, the soreness and heat just above my right foot reminds me to slow back down. As much as I want to rush the recovery process, I can’t. As I remind myself when I’m limping toward my next class, I’ll get there when I get there.

***

Because I am a human being, I have a few unreasonable expectations about the way life is supposed to work. One is that I’m still hoping that one day I’ll find the metaphorical “Easy Button” (why did Staples have to trademark such a perfect metaphor?); I’ll say the right words and think the right things and make the right choices and everything will get better. The clouds will break and the birds will sing and all my weird problems will evaporate.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve had a couple of tough conversations, the kind that will lead to more tough conversations in the near future. Mostly I’ve been hoping I can just get them over with so I can move on to something more interesting and less frustrating. But the other day, as I skirted around the edges of pushing through another conversation, I got called out.

You know this is going to take time, right? It’s not just something you can fix right this second.

I guess you’re right. Although, if I’m being honest, I’m not really sure what I’m doing.

Someone once told me that if you throw pasta at a wall and it sticks, then it’s ready to eat. I’ve never tried this, but for some reason I believe it. If I just lob enough noodles at a wall, eventually something will stick and I can crack open the Prego and consume a mediocre college-kid dinner. By extension, I suppose I also believe that if I just try enough things and have enough conversations, then I can check “fix my problems” off my to-do list and get on with my life.

I’m having to admit that life doesn’t work that way.  Sometimes I just have to take it as it comes.

***

Over the weekend, my conscious mind finally realized that I’m graduating in just over three weeks. This has plunged me into something of a graduation crisis — I can’t concentrate on my assignments, I feel really apathetic, and I jokingly consider abandoning school to get a tattoo and backpack across Europe. It’s like a mental power surge caused my brain to short circuit, leaving me to stumble around in the dark and hoping the power comes back on.

I feel a little guilty about it. I mean, I really should be doing my assignments. My parents/friends probably could do without my vacillating between being upset when they don’t understand how I’m feeling and snapping that “I don’t want to talk about it” when they do.

The truth is that I’m grieving, in a sense. I’ve had four really good years of college. I know I’ve got a lot of good years ahead of me, but I also know they’re going to be very different from what I know now. I have to process that, regardless of whether I want to.

I wish I could just get to the part where I make my peace with graduating and get a job and do the whole “rest of my life” thing. I know in my head that this too shall pass and that everything will be OK. But right now, it’s hard, and I’m just trying to take life as it comes. I’ll get there when I get there.

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