It is my 52nd birthday…

I am always a little introspective most days but my birthday has always been a quiet day meant for reflection.  Maybe it is the winter in me that wants to burrow under the covers, warmth and darkness of myself and just think, find answers, remember people and events.

This year was an eventful one for me and so much better than last year.  This year found me safe, regaining my health in a 1903 barn converted into a huge apartment in Mount Washington.  I’ve spent the year filling it with things of comfort and home – kitchen gadgets, books, spices and fluffy pillows.  I’ve had my children here, grandchildren too.  The walls have echoed with laughter, cries and long conversations.  There were possibilities here and disappointments too.  There has been excitement, friendship and love in these walls.  It has become a home, not just to me, but to friends and family.

Last week I took a much needed vacation up to the Bay area with a friend.  We had a great time exploring, going to a Raiders game and visiting with other friends.  One hers, one mine – now both are mutual.  Isn’t that grand?  The sharing of friends and how it mushrooms into more friendships that you didn’t think possible is always a wonder.

At the end of our trip there was an accident.  We were on a boat, coming back from Alcatraz, almost to the dock when our boat hit another boat, then hit the dock.  Two collisions.  I saw a lady fall and I know that I was flung back against the wall of the boat, sinking to the bench there which kept me from falling.  It was only later that I realized I was in pain.  At first it was too surreal, too confusing.  When they asked us to put on life jackets, we thought it was a joke.  We made jokes.  Gallows humor about the Titanic I believe.  In poor taste, but I blame shock.  We hesitated at the life jackets.  They were dirty, sandy from being stored on the boat.  When I saw people around the boat putting them on, it began to dawn on me that this was real.  I was in a boat accident and oh shit, we have to wear life jackets.

It got more surreal.  We began to drift aimlessly in the bay.  People on the nearby docks were staring and taking pictures.  I heard someone say something about water.  To shake off the fear, we began to take photos, silly photos of just anything.  We posed with life jackets, we posted to Facebook.  Everyone else was doing pretty much the same – taking pictures.  I think we were all in shock though no one went overboard, no one was bleeding, we were all okay and I think that is what was even more surreal.  How could we be all okay when we were wearing life jackets and the Coast Guard was just pulling  up, speeding alongside our boat?

When I saw the Coast Guard boat and people throwing rope over, I thought they were coming to get us.  That we’d have to get in some small rescue rowboat or get on the Coast Guard boat.  Instead, they towed us.  They boarded the boat we were on and tended to injuries, mine included.  I was looked at, given an ice pack, poked at and then statements were taken, names were given.  We leaned against a table exhausted, adrenalin and shock now dissipating and creating a kind of falling down of spirit.  Eventually, we left the boat and into a town car provided by the boat company to make it back safely home.

There was no fanfare upon my arrival home.  Just home, as always welcoming and warm.  I remember taking an aspirin for the pain and falling asleep on the sofa before waking to pain.  My arm and shoulder are still painful, a reminder that life is short, unexpected things happen and how grateful I am to be alive and well.

I’m here.  I’ve beat illness and misfortune to get here, I’ve found strength I didn’t know I had, I’ve lived an incredible life that still has lots of wonder and living to come and I am looking forward to it.  I’m in pain, but it’s a pain that reminds me I’m alive and I’ve a story to tell.  Jerry Garcia had it right, what a long, strange trip its been.

P.S. We were stranded for hours, took 700 or so photos and videos and never ran out of battery.  Hell yes, #Verizon #Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Ellie’s iPhone. #VWZBuzz

About Gina Ruiz

Teller of tales, writing about East L.A., tech, mobile, and historical fiction. PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship finalist 2013. Author of stories in Ban This! and Lowriting. Published poet. Writes a lot.