Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ankle Break

It was like a Quentin Terentino movie where the plot twists at the end; only I wasn’t killing Bill or adding chunky pieces of pulp to fiction. But I knew for a fact that my ankle was more twisted than any other aforementioned screenplay. I stared at my large swollen ligament, which felt so numb I was nearly convinced that it wasn’t mine.
I don’t know why I jumped. Maybe it was the applause of fellow skateboarders encouraging me to think myself invincible. Maybe it was my ego slipping and forgetting Ice Cube’s advice to “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.” But that wasn’t likely for me; I just really wanted to do it. Jumping with my board off of the 12-stair set was a challenge, an obstacle to prove myself something more than ordinary, a leap for independence. If only I had succeeded, I would have broken free from all limitations – fear, physics, and myself. I considered trying it again, but my logic told me the damage was too great for a second attempt.
The jump was irrational, but skateboarding in general is irrational – how the timing and coordination of my feet can manipulate a wooden board to flip, spin, and turn. I think that the worst enemy of skating is logic; once you start thinking, you hesitate; once you hesitate you fall and fracture your ankle. I longed for the pure emotion, the euphoric satisfaction of rebelling against the laws of physics, but my three or four seconds of mid-air suspension was interrupted by gravity, and I walked away with a broken bone, but not a broken spirit.
I was in the waiting room for urgent care, a place I had become acquainted with throughout my four-wheeled endeavors. I dreaded seeing my parents’ concerned faces, an image with which I am far too familiar. They didn’t understand my desire to be extraordinary, my leap to be something better than Justin Nguyen. Closing my eyes, I thought of the times where I was too scared to prove myself, where my logic trumped emotion – not riding Six Flags’ X2 rollercoaster, not entering beatboxing contests, not trying spicy Indian curry, ditching my friends for homework… I was enumerating the list, when I heard the nurse call my name.
“Nguyen, Justin.”
I rose, but now with a little pride, and I limped my way to the emergency room.
“Back again, I see?” asked the nurse half-humouredly.
Smiling, I nodded. This time, I was glad I had chosen the irrational thing. I would never look back and wonder “What if?” The shooting pain in my leg was a shining trophy of my passion for greatness. In fact, I couldn’t wait for the three months of healing to pass so I could try the very same maneuver again – to taste freedom in the few seconds of weightlessness. If every injury were a mark for my jumps and leaps for the extraordinary, I would gladly break my ankle over again.

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