My body is imprinted with all kinds of memories. That scar on my elbow reminds me of a summer day more than thirty years ago when, while I was bike riding near my parents' house, I collided with a dog in order to avoid a collision with a car and slammed my body against the pavement. The scars on my fingers remind me of the time I was investigating a trap door with a bunch of other teenagers, and the door slammed shut on my fingers. We never did get to see what was on the other side of the door. When it rains, my left leg aches, and I remember weeks of lying on my side with my leg in a long cast, my children playing on my bed and the floor beside me while I healed. The stretch marks on my breasts come from that summer between seventh grade and eighth, when my body grew like magic.
For the last two months, I've been conscious, every day, almost every minute, of my right knee, a body part that, to be honest, I don't usually spend much time thinking about. During the month of February, the knee injury throbbed at night, waking me up during the darkest hours of the night, spinning me into the dreadful introspection that happens during long winter nights. And during daylight hours, I had to think carefully about everything I did, planning my route around campus, for instance, so that I would get to elevators instead of stairs. I had to stop doing the things I usually did without thinking – like the simple act of stamping my feet to rid them of snow and slush when I walk into a building on campus.
The healing has been frustratingly slow. I've had to make deliberate choices every day, figuring out things I could do so that I wouldn't go crazy without physical releases like hiking, snowboarding, skiing, or belly dancing. I spent more time by the fire, more time doing reiki, more time talking to friends on the phone or writing long emails.
And gradually, the knee has gotten better. One day I noticed that I could walk normally again, without having to keep my leg stiff. Another day, I found myself walking down the stairs without pain. I'd wake up in the morning sometimes and realize that I had slept through the night. Sometimes I'd go for whole stretches of time without thinking about the knee at all.
I don't know yet whether the pain will completely disappear. Sometimes if I've been sitting too long in one position and get up quickly, a spasm of pain will remind me of the injury. My students invited me to go hiking with them in the mountains, and I don't think I can yet do that kind of upward climbing on an uneven trail. I think the knee still needs more time; I don't think I have yet gone through the last cycle of pain and healing. And I wonder, too, if some echo might not remain, like the other scars on my body, like the aches in other body parts, some twinge that will remind me of this winter, the year that I was 45 years old, with my kids growing up fast, my daughter overseas, and me at the threshold of a new stage in my life.