I have a trick knee. Sometimes, without warning, it just stops doing what I want it to do, as though a loose wire inside has disconnected the power. As quickly as it stops working, it starts back up again. Most of the time, the power returns in time to correct and instead of a fall, I do a funny skip-hop that the children always notice. Every so often, the correction fails me and I fall down… on my trick knee.
My first day in New York, my knee decided to play a trick on me as I walked up one of the city’s trillions of staircases. I corrected poorly and fell down. “How do you fall UP a flight of stairs, mom?”
I went to bed that night sore, but awoke to a knee that screamed at me with every step I took. Just to be extra tricky, my knee completely refused to walk down steps, while awkwardly cooperating with going uphill.
With my knee giggling as it performed some kind of comedy routine that I did not find funny, I went on a grueling walk until you drop tour of New York. The blisters that I could feel on my feet thoughtfully distracted me from my knee. Eventually, girl teen made me trade shoes with her. She marched all over the city in my tiny soled Converse while her super soft New Balance sneakers felt so good that I didn’t even notice the blisters forming between my toes.
The shoe change was helpful, but it didn’t make my knee any happier. I developed my own Ratso Rizzo limp-walk to avoid the worst knee movements. Girl teen stared blank faced as I tried to explain the cultural significance of Ratso Rizzo while we stood in the middle of a traffic jam of yellow, beeping cars and shiny, silent limos. My soul was bruised at the thought of her eventual assimilation by the city and loss of delight at the beauty in the everyday.
The limp made fresh new blisters on my feet in places I didn’t know that feet could get blisters. Lifting and throwing my trick knee out of a window I was climbing out of caused my weight to shift on a metal window frame resulting in technicolor bruises on my thigh and ample posterior. On the last day of my New York visit, I went from one place to sit and people watch to another place to sit and people watch. When my abused by five children bladder forced me to seek out one of the city’s elusive bathrooms, I seriously considered remaining seated in the tiny stall and doing a photo essay of bathroom graffiti.
My first two days home in Knoxville, I wore my house cleaning clothes and slippers, although there was almost no cleaning done. How I missed my friend at the window cleaning in Long Island company. I know that the correct response to my aches would have been to continue walking several miles daily. Instead, I chose to avoid additional pain and slump back to my normal, amorphic blobbiness. If I ever get to visit New York again, I will be buying whatever shoes our outdoor outfitters sell to long distance marathon athletes and mountain climbers
or I could simply act my age.