Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Moment Between Okay and Not Really

You know the moment - it's the one between between slicing your hand and the gush of blood, slamming the door and realizing you've left a finger behind, the mis-step and the fall.  It's the moment when things are still okay, but not for long.

We were prepping for a short bike ride. I'd hit the garage door button, dashing out from under the closing door, stepping carefully over the beam of light that stops the process when he said "oh, I left my helmet inside."

No problem, I thought, waving my foot across the beam. The door kept closing. No problem, I thought, thinking of the way elevators won't shut on your hand and will bounce back from the least resistance. So I put my shoe under the descending door.

Which descended anyway. Without bounce.  Without give. A powered heavy metal door coming down on my shoe, my toes, which was now clearly a really bad idea. I tried to pull my foot out. No way. I realized that not only was I stuck, but my toes were feeling quite a bit of pressure.

It's a special moment. It's when you realize that things might not be okay, and very soon.

I jammed my fingers under the door, pulled up with all my strength. Nothing moved. Then the pain began.

My friend had the presence of mind to run into the house and around to the garage and pull the quick release on the garage door -- a red handle, which makes so much sense now. The door released, came up.

I took another moment to survey the damage. It was my lucky day: the toes were insulted but not broken, annoyed but not crushed. Now, hours later, they are mumbling about my lack of good sense, but are ready to consider forgiving me.

Even so, the moment is limned in my memory, framed with all the intensity that an active, alert, and not-quite-panicking mind can create.

Such moments can change us, if we let them. They remind us that we are one slip, one poor decision, one moment's bad luck away from being mangled or killed.  Or, in my case, bruised, embarrassed, and feeling lucky.

And in more practical terms: garage doors are unforgiving masses of driving metal completely unlike sensitive elevator doors. Soft toes will not stop them.

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