This is a commentary about the slow lane, about the slowing of time since I suffered a severe brain injury while skateboarding with my dog. This is a blog about recovery; about our '82 VW Westfalia. It's about writing, surfing, camping, married life, bleeding ulcers that make you feel old at 32; about family, friends, and my dog Artie; it's about cruising in fourth gear, getting passed by every car and learning to appreciate every second of it.
"Hola, coma estas," said the Mexican man from behind the counter.
"Bien, gracias. E tu?" I responded.
"I'll take a breakfast burrito with eggs, cheese, beans, potatoes, salsa fresca, por favor."
"OK," the man responded. He looked up at me. "What happened here," he said in a thick Mexican accent while pointing to the top of his head.
"Oh, I fell."
"You feel alright?"
"Yeah, I feel pretty good, gracias.
"You hear voices in your head?"
"Only a few. They are my closest friends."
The man laughed and handed me my debit card. Five minutes later he put my paper bag, burrito inside, on the counter.
"Take care, amigo," he said.
"Si, te vaya bien."
It was the second time in two days that someone from behind the counter noticed the scar on my head. The day before, I stood in line at a sandwich shop and looked up at a menu board. When I was ready to order I glanced down at the young female cashier with tufts of brown curly hair sprouting from a cap. She was staring up at my head, her mouth was agape. As soon as I made eye contact she looked down at the register.
These past two months, whether I had a maroon helmet on my head, a large indentation on the right side of my skull, or a red scar tracing its way down behind my right ear, I've seen the looks, and I've felt the stares. People have treated me like I am some living specimen on display. I was the same as them before the fall, no matter how hard I tried not to look as I passed a bad car accident, and I too caught myself staring at the differences that make us who we are.
And now, I see people, the normals I like to call them, studying my head trying to crack the code, trying to figure out where it all went wrong for me. I see the attention they pay when I talk. After a few words they appear disinterested. 'It's just a scar,' they seem to be thinking. They are right, it is only a scar. I only wish more people would ask if I hear voices inside my head. That's when the humor, the humanity comes out and that's when we laugh and become people, not the disabled, not strange specimens on display for all to gawk at and ponder, just people, some of course with a few more voices in their head than others.