Sunday, October 24, 2010
Gotta Love Those Knees.
She spent a lot of time on that step and, to the best of my recollection the world always looked and smelled pretty wonderful to her from there.
Just then, before the camera interrupted her, she was looking down the walk, across the street, towards an embankment that marked the edge of Eddie Grose's yard.
This embankment was covered in honeysuckle. When the honeysuckle bloomed, you could pinch the end of the blossom and very carefully draw out the little stem that ran through it. Right there on that stem would be a single, pulsating, iridescent drop of nectar. Like treasure. Like gold. The world would give little Annie things like that, for free.
The street wasn't much. A narrow lane of crumbling asphalt, trailing off to gravel along its sides. (A barefoot child memorizes the texture of every patch of ground she walks on. Barefoot Mindfulness, I'd call it. The gravel, especially when it got pitched up into the grass, was notable.) The sun would come up over Eddie Grose's house and everything would be shimmering gold and green. Summer with no school. And shoes only for church and going to the store. Yay for that.
But I was writing about the knees. Those perfectly functioning, under-appreciated, taken-utterly-for-granted knobby, dirty, skinned up, little knees.
Not that Annie wasn't reminded ad nauseum about how lucky she was to be young and agile. There seemed to be no end of ancient people roaming about, hovering around, to tell a kid how lucky she was to be young and not old. They should have saved their breath. A kid, even one as essentially cooperative and anxious to please as this one, is not programmed to get that. It doesn't compute. Frankly, I don't think it should.
I actually believe that the perfect time to understand all that, at last, happens to be right now.
I am struck by how gifted that child was. How completely whole. Her body ticked like clockwork, a billion tiny, unsupervised functions in their dance of health and vitality. Nothing was broken. Nothing was tired. Nothing hurt unless she skinned it or ran it through poison ivy. She moved in a cloud of unconscious well being. She was blessed and couldn't comprehend it. But she knew a good blessing when she saw one.
I'm glad for that. Glad for her. Glad for me. Glad for a moderately unblemished childhood. I had, in fact, a childhood happier than anyone deserves as long as any child, anywhere doesn't get one of those as its birthright. It was pure luck. Pure grace.
So, time passed. I don't live in that house anymore, can't go back to that step again, and now I've wrecked those knees. Or time, genetics, or something -- something I did or didn't do, or didn't even have a great deal of control over; one or all of the above -- wrecked them for me. They're done. It hurts them simply to be. And, just in time, science and medicine have an excellent plan to replace them for me.
I embrace that possibility. I'm excited to consider it. I'm optimistic. I've done what I can to get ready. I come to the first of the operations with confidence. I'm ready. I'm actually not very scared or sad.
But I don't expect my replaced knees to be good as new.
You see, I had new knees once and, disregarding the warnings of my elders, I enjoyed the heck out of them. Or at least the kid in the photo did.
For that, I feel very grateful. And still quite lucky to be me.