The day they put me on a backboard, the EMTs had to cut off my clothes. My knees were in a lot of pain from slamming into the dash and I was convinced I had broken my knee cap. It was one of the few times I was wearing a pair of jeans to rehearsal and I remember the EMTs apologizing to me. They kept saying they were sorry for cutting up my clothes, but I didn’t care. In that moment, all I was concerned about was making sure my knees, legs, and the rest of my body were okay. They even cut off a brand new shirt I had only worn twice and a favorite tank top I bought years ago. I honestly didn’t mind. Sure: there was a touch of sadness at the loss of clothing I cared about…sort of like when you give away your favorite shirt to your niece, but it didn’t linger.
10 months later I still don’t mind that they cut those clothes, yet I am dealing with something else. And unfortunately for me, I haven’t been able to put into words what that something else is. I can say, it has something to do with how I feel now about jeans.
I get teary-eyed and can’t breathe when I think about buying a new pair.
I haven’t worn a pair since the accident.
The thought of wearing a pair of jeans makes me nervous.
And I have not been able to purchase a new pair. I’ve tried a couple times to walk over to that section of the store. Both attempts left me in a state of panic and I had to walk away before even taking them off of the shelf.
This seems extremely odd for me as jeans have been something I always felt comfortable wearing. They were my go to pants almost every day of college. Over the last few years, I have worn them less just because my adult life requires me to be dressed up more of the time, but I used to wear them on weekends, outings, and all of the time in the summer.)
I know that I have been avoiding shopping for jeans. It seems so silly.
“It’s just a pair of jeans, ” I keep saying in my head.
And yet, to me…It’s admitting something.
It’s going back to that night when I had to ride home in hospital scrubs.
It’s remembering the sound of the scissors gliding up the leg as they tried to talk me out of my state of shock.
It’s wondering where the hell are the clothes from that night and not being able to remember.
It’s coming to terms with the fact that I left something behind back there in the ambulance.
I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m afraid to face it. Somehow that pair of jeans symbolizes a whole lot more of the experience than they ever should and I am determined to beat that.
Tomorrow, I am going to the store. I am picking out a few pairs. I am trying them on. If I find one that fits, I am buying it and bringing it home. I am bringing home whatever I lost. I don’t know what that was, but I will find it.