New York, New York. That’s where I’m heading tonight.
After writing New York memories with increasing frequency here, I recognized that I needed to visit. After all, because of the mystery illness last winter and spring, the one that took nearly three months to correctly diagnose as celiac disease, I haven’t been back to New York in over a year. And I miss it, dearly. I miss the dirty streets, the honking horns, the way the skyscrapers blot out the sky. I couldn’t live there anymore, but sometimes I just jones for the chance to walk down Broadway, going fast, passing thousands of people on the sidewalk on the Upper West Side. And, even though I can no longer eat bagels from H & H, or bread at Le Pain Quotidien, there are new gluten-free restaurants to explore. We have a five-day break coming up at school. Why not take two more days off and make it a week in my favorite big city in the world?
So, the plan is to teach my last day of classes, write evaluations all afternoon and early evening, dash home to pack, then climb on a midnight flight to JFK. Then wake up in New York City, one of my favorite places in the world.
Well, that was the plan.
Update since I first started writing this post. It’s actually Saturday now, even though the date on this is yesterday’s. Yesterday morning, I put up this photo and started writing, in the giddy, silly hope that I could overcome what, in the end, prevented me from climbing on that plane last night.
Well, on Thursday morning, I slipped on some stairs at school, missed a step, and slammed down on the outside of my left foot. It appears now that this either stretched tendons and ligaments beyond their capacity, or tore them, or caused a hairline fracture. Or all three! When it happened, I immediately thought, “Shit! I broke my foot!” Students ran for the athletic director, who brought up ice and an ace bandage. A friend drove me home, and I lay on the couch all day, in shock, my foot propped up on five pillows, icing and resting. Being the model patient. And I really just thought, “Oh, I’ll rest today, and I’ll be fine.”
But that night, it all grew worse. It swelled in the night, even though I iced it. I didn’t sleep more than an hour and a half. I knew then I’d have to postpone my flight at least a day. I went to school, to try it out. And during the day, my ankle and foot grew grotesque. Ballooned. Blue, purple, green. Even the inside of the ankle swelled and turned colors. I could see the blood pooling at the bottom of the foot, under the skin. (My friend Dorothy said today, after seeing it: “It looks like someone sliced off the bottom of your foot, bruised it badly, then sewed it back on.” I could post a photo, but this is ostensibly a food blog, and I don’t want to turn your stomach. This description will have to do.) And I could barely put weight on it. Walking in the hallways scared me, for fear that kids would bump into my foot. How was I going to do the subways?
By the time I reached the doctor’s office–I had to listen to reason and have it x-rayed–I had already accepted my fate. And then, when he took a look at it, he said, “Wow, you have a doozy here.” (Apparently, I can’t do anything halfway.) When I jokingly told him that I had a flight to New York that night, he wouldn’t even pause to let me tell him that I had to cancel. He just looked at me and said, “You are not traveling.”
So there you go.
The good news is that it doesn’t appear to be broken. It could be a hairline fracture, but it will–get this–take four or five days for the bone dust to settle before they could see that. If it doesn’t feel significantly better by Tuesday, it might mean torn ligaments. So I have to rest. He wants me to start physical therapy immediately. I will. If I had pushed it and gone to New York anyway, I could have damaged this foot far more badly, and left myself with lingering effects for months and months. I’ve already had that, with the car accident. Now, I know how to rest. I know the beauty of surrender.
In the meantime, I rented four or five dvds to watch. I have four or five new cooking magazines to read. I have friends stopping by to bring me supplies. I’ll have days at home, with no obligations, and hours to write. I haven’t had that since school started in September. I’m alive. I’m fine.
I’ll miss New York. I talked to my friend Monica on the phone this morning and heard car horns honking behind her and wanted to cry.
But at the same time, I’m aware of how much worse this could be. After the car accient, I always feel this. All I did was trip and sprain my ankle.
We make plans, and then life changes. Okay. It’s only the transition time that’s hard, the moments when I can’t quite believe that what I envisioned my life to be is not going to come to fruition. But isn’t that most of life?
And, as my friend Jara wrote me in an email today: “At least you didn’t break a rib, so you can still laugh.” Absolutely.
Besides, life provides when you need it. On Thursday, when Francoise pulled into my driveway, my ankle dripping from the ice bag, she had to block the sidewalk a bit. My neighbor’s car was in the way, so we jutted out. At the precise moment we opened the car doors, a tiny, wizened older lady walked up. She was a perfect evocation: hunched back, smeared red lipstick, a clear plastic rain bonnet on her grey hair. Francoise apologized to her, and said: “I’m so sorry, but you’ll have to go around the car. My friend is injured.” The woman took a look at me, my swelling ankle, the way I had to hobble from the car. And she also looked at the stone steps up to my door. So she said, “Oh dear, I’m sorry. Would you like to use my cane?“
I looked back, softened. “Oh, that’s okay. Thank you, though.”
She leaned her body against Francoise’s car, then held out her battered metal cane. “No, you really should use it, my dear.”
And I looked at her, and the steps without a railing, thought about it for a moment, then said, “Okay.”
It really came in handy.
So you see? Sometimes you hurt your ankle when you least expect it. And you miss your trip to New York. But then, an old lady will offer you her cane. And all is right with the world.
SPINACH, PINE NUTS, AND RAISINS
When you’re injured, and in pain, you need comfort food. My first thought last night, after visits to the doctor and bumpy bus rides to the drug store and back, and after years of habit, was “I want macaroni and cheese.” But of course, that’s not possible now. Not unless I have gluten-free pasta at the ready, and two stable feet to stand on as I make homemade mac and cheese. Right now, that’s not me.
So instead, I offer this suggestion. I made this a few days ago, based on a suggestion Melissa had made in the comments on my post on turmeric, and how much I love spinach. I’m sure the dish she had in Spain was far better, but this one certainly satisfies.
1 cup homemade chicken stock
1 large bunch of spinach, washed and dried
1/4 cup of pine nuts
1/2 cup of plump golden raisins
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of turmeric
sea salt and pepper to taste
°Boil the chicken stock in a large skillet, until some of it has boiled away.
°Throw in the spinach, and the spices together. Cook until the spinach is wilted.
°At the last moment, toss in the pine nuts and golden raisins. Cook until everything is hot. Eat immediately.