When it rains…

[A snippet from a writing project in gestation, which will probably make very little sense if you haven’t read these other snippets: Square one, No importa, New tables, Belly of the beast, No turning back, Memories, dreams, reflections, El campo de pueblo, Wait and see, Bug in the Jug, & Only now.]

Here on the Pueblo, when it rains, it comes down hard. I’m talking a fucking deluge. The sky just opens up and dumps it all on you – clouds, birds, airplanes, stars – the whole enchilada. It could go on like this for an hour, then suddenly stop, as if a giant, unseen hand just turned off the celestial faucet. A minute later it might come down again in a torrent, for another hour or more. It went on like this all day yesterday, and all through the night.

Of course, I needed to get to San Pedro to see the doctor about my knee. Turns out, my travel insurance will cover the cost of an MRI, as long as El Doctor makes the referral. Jesús didn’t seem concerned about the rain, the condition of the roads, etc., so we headed out about 4:15pm. We managed to get there unharmed, although Jesús did mention as we crossed “the bridge” that there was a good chance it would be under water by the time we returned. “Then what?” I asked, naively. Well, then we’d just have to sit there and wait for the river to go down. Might take several hours, assuming the rain stops. No importa!

Anyway, it was a long wait to see the doc, but once we got in, he quickly went to work on the knee, taking it through all the drills. Of course, the whole exchange had to be translated, the doctor asking me “Does it hurt when I do this?” and me wincing and resisting, but for the most part relating that I didn’t feel any sharp pain, just some discomfort and weird sensations (and fear that at any moment I’d be in agony as a result of his manipulations). The lack of pain seemed to perplex the doc, leading him to believe that the complete ligament tear he was sensing must have been the result of an old injury. “If it was recent, he’d be in more pain” he explained to Molly. He theorized that this old injury caused instability in the knee, causing the meniscus to tear during the soccer game. I told Molly to tell him that, with all due respect, his theory didn’t make sense to me. I’ve only injured my left knee once, seven years ago, and the MRI at that time showed no ligament damage, just a fracture. It healed fine and I’ve had no injuries since. Knee solid as a rock. Played sports a zillion times with total stability. Surely, I haven’t since shredded my knee ligament, without a hint of pain or swelling to indicate an injury took place? Besides, I said, I felt my knee get torn to shreds two weeks ago on the soccer field, with the pain being primarily where the torn ligament used to be. The doctor stuck to his guns, however, insisting the torn ligament must be from an old injury. At that moment, what little confidence I had in him vanished. Worse than being dead wrong, he was setting me up for an insurance nightmare. Old injury = pre-existing condition = no coverage for repair. And surgical repair will be necessary, he said, if I hope to ever play sports again. And I do hope.

“At least we got the MRI referral,” I thought, as we headed back home in the downpour. “We’ll have to travel several hours to get to the nearest MRI facility, deal with continual confusion, etc., but the sooner I can get it done, the sooner I can get back on my feet. The thing now is to get back to the house in one piece.” How Jesús managed to navigate around the puddles and potholes, I don’t know. It was dark and the windows were all fogged up, and Jesus had to continually wipe away a spot through which to see the road ahead. We approached the bridge, but it was no passe. The pavement had to be at least a few feet below the surface of the rushing water, and a downed tree was blocking the way as well. Jesús told us that last year a car tried to cross during a flood like this and four people drowned. We voted unanimously to remain alive, so there was nothing to do but wait. My thoughts were caught up in worries about the surgery, which would have to happen in the United States. “Shit, with all the associated expenses, I might not be able to return to Mexico at all. Even if I could swing the chunk of dough the insurance won’t cover and the travel expenses, still we will lose my part of the grant money if I need to be away for more than a month.” Every now and again a phrase from the mindfulness book would come to mind. Acceptance, Bobby. Don’t get caught up in your thoughts, Bobby. Return to your breath, Bobby. “Fuck all that!” I thought to myself, but before I could elaborate further, we were heading across the bridge, water rushing up over the tires. When we arrived at the house, we noticed that the floor of our room was pretty wet. Rainwater had gotten in through the closed window and the ceiling was leaking in a few places. There was nothing to do but throw down some towels, move the bed to a dry place, and ride out the storm. When I turned the bathroom faucet on, the water that flowed out looked like diarrhea. Chunks of mud were being spit out into the sink. Our hosts informed us that this is just what happens when the river swells beyond its banks. Again, nothing to do about it but wait. It’s now 3pm the following day, and still the water is pure mud. No showering, no washing dishes, no washing clothes until the river deems it so. It’s the beginning of the rainy season, we are told. Might rain like this for days.

So, the MRI trip will have to wait. Patience – Isn’t that one of those fucking pillars of mindfulness? I’ve been laid up for two weeks now, and it’s hard to keep my spirits up. I’m a guy who likes to stay on the move. Shit, my whole philosophy of life has to do with allowing the body to move unfettered. I can see the atrophy setting in already, and I have at least several more weeks of immobility ahead of me. This was not part of the plan but, yes, it’s true, this is how it is. I can make the most of it or continue whining.

One thing I have been doing is sorting through the old journal files. Funny thing, the past. The sense of it I’ve been carrying around with me doesn’t seem to match up with the documentation. Stories I’ve been telling for the past few years, upon close inspection, appear to be significantly edited versions of what “really” happened, assuming the journal entries are closer to the truth of things. I’m not sure what to make of this. After all, we register an experience on a few levels at most, filtering everything through a mesh of conditioning, tangled thoughts and twisted expectations. Considering the teeny tiny attention spans most of us make use of, it’s no wonder it can take years to fully make sense of a single experience, to deeply understand even the briefest of openings to the majesty, the wonder of a given moment.

A few minutes ago, I concluded my trip down memory lane, arriving back at September, 2007. I am struck with how non-linear my past seems, as I sense it from the vantage point of today, right now, as it swirls and bubbles up through the portals of memory and dreams. The dramas and concerns that preoccupied me even a month or two ago, seem no closer to hand nor further away than the smell of Grandma’s kitchen, or the countless nightmares and longings of my youth. And so it will soon be with all this rain, and the worries about my knee, and the bumpy roads and muddy water. Soon the floodwaters will recede, and all will flow back into the mix, into the bubbling swirl of moments forgotten, where the past is churned together with the sound of pigs being slaughtered and the smell of burning plastic and the hollow pangs of hope and despair. A gurgling, sputtering ocean that spits its spindrift toward the sky, where the stars broadcast their secrets through the ether, and where revelation awaits, full of grace, for an open ear…

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