It started as a pretty normal day. Some work, some meetings, some more work. I even ate a big sugar cookie going down the Conde Nast elevators just to provoke gawking.
A subway ride later, I was walking down Park Avenue South when a homeless person asked for 35 cents. She looked blind. I thought that’s uncanny, I have exactly 35 cents in my coat pocket. There must be some reason here. And as I turned back to hand it to her, the sky fell.
Well, not the sky. But chunks of ice the size of bricks, which tumbled from the fourth story church roof overhead.
One of them beaned me in the head. Hard. Like, try to maintain consciousness hard.
I was dazed. Passersby rushed forward to see if I was okay. (New Yorkers are cool that way.) I brushed them off as I rubbed the top of my scalp. I made my way to the 35 cents to the homeless woman who said, “YOU COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED!” “Well,” I mumbled, “you must really deserve this money if something made me turn around to give it to you and get hit with a brick of ice.” It seemed to make sense at the time.
All I could think of was that she wasn’t actually blind. And that she had almost a full moustache. And her eyes were kind of weird.
Then I thought of my girls. And that’s when I lost it.
Through tears, I made my way to my mother’s apartment a few blocks away and thankfully she was on her way there too. Even at forty, sometimes we need our mommies. I sat on the couch in her big plush bathrobe coddling a glass of water, and sobbed, thinking of all the headlines of random people killed each year by falling cranes or electrified manholes or broken sidewalk grates. And, maybe, ice.
My mother reminded me that I could look at it like why me?, or I could look at it like why was I spared? Coincidentally, she had been struck by lightning as a kid. She asked if I was feeling okay–dizzy or nauseous. I told her I was in shock, not feeling anything. It was probably a little post-traumatic stress disorder.
She told me she thought that that ended last week. I said no, you’re thinking of pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder. I suppose there’s another blessing – that I don’t have both at once.
When something like this happens, your mind starts to create meaning out of it to try and explain it away. Was it a sign I shouldn’t give money to homeless people? Was it a sign that life is fleeting? Was it a sign that I should really get that will together that I’ve been putting off? Was it a sign that I should follow my dreams while I can? Was it a sign that I should wear a hardhat when I walk down Park Avenue South? I can’t really say.
Then we got on the computer and looked up what one does for a possible concussion.
The first step: Apply ice. Which was actually the last thing I wanted to do.