My Year 40 was a shitty, shitty year. I was stuck in a bad job that continued to get worse with a long commute and an asshole boss. I had some "female" troubles in early 2013 that resulted in a hysterectomy and a week in the hospital. Relationship troubles plagued me, and hurt my very scarred up heart. There were chickens loose for years that were coming home to roost. (Said chickens will be named in future posts, I'm sure.) I was certainly not feeling especially happy or optimistic.
Then April happened. That month started with this weird, funky light flashing in the corner of my eye and ended with me sitting in a neurologist's office with him explaining that I had MS. I had 18 "holes" in my brain--areas bright as a dying star that were evident on my MRI. Life was about to change dramatically because of the golf course being constructed in my head. Well, fuck...
My good friend Sara did something then. She made me join her one Saturday for tryouts. Roller derby tryouts. She dragged me to the warehouse that contained the track. She strapped skates on my feet. Feet that have had no wheels on them for 30 years. She grabbed me by the hips and launched me forward into the pack of incredibly cool women that all harbored the dream that I had secretly had since I first learned about Derby. And I fell. And I fell again. I was fighting the side effects of a medication that I was taking that was making me shake. It was making me dizzy. And I tried to balance on 8 wheels.
My endurance was terrible. I couldn't skate forward. I couldn't stop. I was completely drained after a single lap. My legs burned from the exertion of muscles that had long since retired into a quiet existence.
Exhausted, shaky, and drained, I sat on the bench and watched these amazing women skate. And fall, and get up, and skate some more. I couldn't hold the tears back. Trauma, the team medic, gracefully skated over and sat near me on the bench.
"I'm not hurt," I told her. "I'm just frustrated."
"No you're not." Trauma looked at me and said, "You're pissed off. Your pissed that your body has betrayed you."
She told me to stand up, and try again. Then try again, then do better next time.
Biz, the Fresh Meat mama (that would be the veteran who is in charge of teaching the rookies how to skate), called me aside. She looked over my tryout sheet with notes about my woefully pitiful test scores. She asked, "Do you want to do this?"
I wanted to do this. Hell, yes I wanted to do this. If I had to go through the Fresh Meat class ten times, yes, I wanted to do this. I wanted to take my body back. I wanted to get strong in preparation for the days ahead when my physical abilities might be tested. I wanted to know that if I was in the emergency room, it was because I took an elbow in the nose while blocking the other team's Jammer. Not because by brain was being rebellious.
Biz made the announcement. We were all invited--I was invited--to begin the Fresh Meat training. Sara leaned back and gave me a wink.
Fuck you 40. Fuck you body. This is going to be epic. 41 is a Prime number.