The Handicap’s Appetite
by Nancy Meagher
Sometimes I still crave running and walking. It was a rare wedding celebration that I had not been moved by the music to dance. A few years ago our niece married a fine fellow from the south of France. As I had taken a few years of High School French, and as language is a hobby of mine—- I was placed at the reception table with: Sylvan’s Lovely Aunts. Moved by American songs in a language that did not come easily, a friendship ensued. We danced our international hearts out. The French in their stylish slim heels – I in a sassy pair of patent leather flats that my friend Elisa insisted I buy. Tiger striped, black grosgrain ribbons at each Peak -a -Boo toe, they were subtle Diva shoes. Several days before the wedding, we leaned back into stuffed faux leather vibrating chairs and enjoyed Pedicures. I left the Salon with Hot Orange Toes. Two years ago, a sure -footed and overly-scheduled Elementary Art teacher, I stumbled and sprained my ankle badly, while crossing the school’s expansive athletic fields. It was the first full week of school, a brilliant September morning when students and teachers are refreshed and anything seems possible. I had just finished Art -Time with two consecutive groups of ernest Pre-Schoolers. An introduction and friendly banter with the new school Vice- Principal interrupted the tail end of our session. Taking it all in stride –which I am good at, I packed up both of my heavy Art Bags, tucked a large rolled poster under my arm and headed out on foot across the fields to meet the Fifth grade. It would be my third class of seven. On that vast grassland spread out before me which separated the two elderly school buildings, my appetite changed. My sprained ankle injury blossomed into a Nerve Disorder called RSD; Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. The newer name is Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: CRPS. A Rose by any name. A cure as elusive as the Monarch Butterfly I spotted in the field that day. It’s brilliant red-orange scales and black stripes – having caught my artist eye. Today, shoes hurt. My feet are as hot as that long ago nail polish – A Sympathetic Nervous System on overdrive. What I DO crave now, is swimming, and lots of it. Seven days a week for fifty minutes ––I stretch and glide through blue-green water with all the grace of that luminous butterfly, my wild red hair and black swimsuit skimming the surface of a field of turquoise green. Over and over and over and I never get tired of the slow, gentle and wonderful feeling of moving fast through space.