This is a continuation of Fall.
I am sitting in a rocking chair with my leg, in a cast from my ankle to my hip, propped on a milk crate. I am angry as I look around at the glorified hallway of an apartment that I am stuck in. This cramped, dilapidated set of rooms, with the uneven floors and the bars on the windows in a lousy neighborhood. The last four weeks have been a string of disappointments, one after another. Four weeks of finding out that I could not cook properly while on crutches. Four weeks not being able to go where I want, when I want. Four weeks of pain, and pills for pain and inflammation, and blood thinners. Four weeks of no booze, no cigarettes, no real company other than a three-year-old who doesn’t speak well, and really has no idea what is going on. And after those four weeks the doctor tells me that I have, at the very least, four more weeks of the same to look forward to. It feels like I am always angry.
I didn’t pick out this apartment, my wife did. She had to pick it out herself because I had to go and break my knee. We have just moved in. That is to say my wife and my best friend moved us in, it is a bit hard to do any heavy lifting with only one usable leg. This apartment is too expensive for its condition and area, but it is what we can afford. Especially now that I am not working. My wife has taken work as a dishwasher in the restaurant where I worked to help with the bills. She is almost never home now. There is so much for her to do now, shopping, paying bills, work, and taking our daughter to her speech therapy. I feel like she is avoiding me. I’d be avoiding me if I was able to leave.
I make attempts to unpack our belongings from time to time. This is a bit scary as I have to lower myself to the ground and hope I can engineer a way of getting back up again each time I inspect a boxes contents to figure out where things should go. Attempting to move furniture by myself is dangerous, my daughter scampers about wanting to “help”, and leaving a trail of toys in her wake. I do not have to do this myself but the clutter and my inactivity infuriates me. I manage to accomplish close to nothing except irritating myself further. It will have to wait until my wife’s day off. My only other available distractions are either, sitting in my chair staring through the barred window at the brick wall and closed blinds of the house across the driveway, or laying in bed watching television. I have had my fill of the latter and am quickly growing tired of the former.
I do get to take a few outings, when my wife has time to escort me, to the coffee shop. I use these opportunities to access the internet and realize the gap of distance and time between myself and most of the people I know. When I am there it can be hit or miss whether I meet up with any of my friends. When I do they always seem have to go back to work or leave for appointments far too soon, still it is good to see them even just for a minute. There are not many of these trips though, as they are time-consuming, exhausting, and painful.
Eventually, I get adept enough at using crutches, that I can manage small trips by myself. I can make it down the road to the ice cream shop to use their WiFi, but carrying the laptop proves to be awkward and it throws me off balance. I can go to the corner store to grab a snack, but the things I want always seem to be on a lower shelf, just out of reach of someone in a full leg cast, so I need to ask for help. From the edge of the store’s parking lot I can see the overflowing parking lot of the restaurant I worked at before my injury and find myself longing for the stress and confusion of the kitchen, something I never thought I would miss. I look down the road and sense how far away my friends houses are on the other side of town. My friends who can walk and ride and drive, with their own lives, their own schedules, that never quite seem to have time to visit me or even call. Sooner or later I wind up hobbling my way back to my confinement and stare through the bars at the fading sunlight.
The most painful and frustrating part to all of this is pretending that none of this bothers me. Keeping this to myself because it is already hard enough on everyone else. Bottling everything up this much leads to moments of explosive rage, and numbing depression without much ground in between. My next appointment with the orthopedist is marked on the calendar and I find myself dreaming that this cast will come off then. I don’t want to just walk. I want to run away.