Tuesday, November 9, 2010 arrived with a clear early morning that promised to become a chilly, sunny, and typically autumn day. I zipped my coat, buckled my helmet strap, unlocked my bike, and headed off to work. A few minutes later, a garbage truck crossed a bike lane to make a right turn. I was in that bike lane. The tires of the truck crushed my left leg and caused other internal injuries. An amazing team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my leg to do so.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Confucius.

In July 2011, I set off to walk a thousand miles as an above-knee amputee in my new prosthesis. The journey has held more twists, turns, and detours than I ever imagined.

I reached Mile 1000 on March 30, 2013.

But of course, that wasn't the end.

I'll keep walking!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

California Dreamin'

Mile Marker 3600:

I've dreamed of traveling freely like I used to.

At long last, I decide to give it a try.  In just 5 hours, I travel nearly 3,000 miles!

The trip is both a celebration and a challenge.

It's a celebration because I cashed in a flight credit from a trip I had to cancel last summer.  Remember Mile 2988?  (Broken foot, wheelchair, etc.)   After that ordeal, traveling on my own feels like a pretty big accomplishment.

It's also a challenge though.  As the trip approaches, I experience chest-squeezing anxiety.  Threatening abdominal pain.  A tiredness I can't seem to kick.  Socket rubs in the most miserable places.

A mini-vacation seems good in theory, but there are so many things to worry about... How will I survive such a long airplane flight?   What equipment should I bring?  What medications?  What emergency measures should I put in place, just in case?

I never dreamed the trip would go off without a hitch.

My flight departs Philly just minutes before a blizzard.  To add to the luck, I'm having an incredibly "good leg day."   It's rare for the forces to come together like that.  In my 5 years as an amputee, this is definitely the most well-timed trip ever!

When I land in Los Angeles, my college roommate Keats scoops me from the airport with hugs, chatter, and an iced coffee waiting in the car.  It's been 15 years since we've seen each other, yet watching us, you'd think we were just catching up after winter break!

Before we even hit the freeway, I know this trip will be worth the planning.

It is.

Courtesy of east coast jet lag!
The next morning, I watch the hazy sunrise from my hotel balcony.

That's West Hollywood for
all you non-locals!

We eat brunch at a French Cafe in WeHo.

Stroll through the gardens at the Getty.

Photos can't quite capture the beauty --
or the FUN!

Long time, no see!

Catch up with my cousin Adam in Playa Del Rey.

Ever see a sky like that??

And watch the evening roll on to Venice Beach.

We talk the whole time.  A lot.  Not about the world as it is, but about how it should be.  These are my friends and family, but they're also "idea" people.  Doers.  DREAMERS.  They start their own businesses.  They build and write.  They create new things where nothing was before.  And as the weekend goes on, I start to dream like that too.

Anything is possible in California!

Now that's a
well-designed shower!
The parts of this trip I imagined would be most difficult -- like the hotel bathroom and shower -- turn out to be easy.  There's still leg and digestive stuff to deal with, but I face it the same way I do at home.  As it comes.  I seem to have left my anxiety back east!

I feel energized.

Traveling is different now, but I finally rediscover that long lost love.  It feels great.  I don't want to go home!

My return flight lands exactly on schedule amidst the snow drifts of Philly.  It's late at night and my leg has shifted awkwardly during the flight.  When I exit the plane, there's no wheelchair, so I limp past empty gates and pretzel stands toward the moving walkway.

On the escalator down to baggage claim, an airport employee strikes up conversation.

"Where are you coming in from?" he asks.

"California," I say, still smiling.

"Why're you here?"  he says.  The tone of his voice implies I might be crazy.

"I live here,"  I answer.  At this very moment, I agree with him.  Why do I live here anyway?

Then I reach the baggage carousel, and this is what I see:

It is such a warm (and hilarious!) welcome, that I forget about the snow and the ice and the weeks of winter ahead!

Why do I live here?

Well, these guys are a good start :)

My friends and neighbors are reason enough.  We laugh all the way home.

Truth be told, I kinda like it here.
Of course, it would be nice if the snow melted.

For now, I know California's out there, and I can return any time I want.  It never hurts to dream...

Great big thanks to Keats, Paul, Ed, Jonathan, and Adam for all the sun and fun, and for a short vacation I'll dream about for a very long time!  xo

1 comment:

  1. Hurray for you! You can do anything......no surprise there!