Many years ago I was trained in Model Mugging, a powerful form of self-defense based on the physical advantages of female rather than male bodies. We practiced the moves over and over until they were ingrained, learned at the level of nerve and muscle. Our teachers wanted our bodies to go on automatic if the need arose. And that does seem to be how it works. We were told a story about a woman who was attacked at a subway station, eight years after she graduated from the training. She didn't even remember the name of the course, but her body flew into action and carried out its moves without her. She has no recollection of what she did to her attacker. She had to deduce it from the hospital reports of the damage done.
I can't tell you what my body does when it has a grand mal, tonic-clonic seizure. My nervous system decides it's had enough and throws a switch and I go down. There's a lightening storm that I never see. I wake up in the landscape of its aftermath, in a field of debris, and trace its path by the damage done. I wake up incoherent, stumbling after words, language shredded and scattered, my tongue bloody, my pants drenched in urine. Burnt light, is what I say this time. Over and over, whispering to myself. Burnt light.
These are a few of the images from my cross country drive. Many more are on my cell, but not yet transferred. I'll add them here as I retrieve them, and add stories, too.
Lake Tahoe: first night on the road.
I meant to write about the next phase of my journey, about crossing Utah, and sitting in Rock Springs Wyoming with my brother on the phone, trying to find a place to camp. About leaving the highway and diving into the fragrant, dusky desert, and the high point of my whole journey, a night spent listening to coyotes singing among the canyons of a land carved by water and left dry as bone. I meant to tell you about Nebraska's unexpected beauty, about the moment plains turned to prairie, about Medicine Bow and grassland, about the red-gold tint of autumn fields of grain and the North Platte River. I meant to tell you about the little nature preserve where I sat and read under a tree while the sun cooked my lunch, about crossing the Missouri and the Mississippi, and watching the smudge over Chicago grow larger on the horizon.
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