Ankle Blog

Ankle Blog

Pay attention to

I was in the bath and instructed myself to pay attention to my feet. People I respect are always instructing others to pay attention to their feet. Never really complied: My feet are pretty, according to the men who tell you that kind of thing, despite being sort of flat, and once in a yoga class as a teenager the teacher said I had yogic toes because I could splay them out in all directions. The adjective was stranger than the information. I’m a flexible person. But yogic? Like tantric? Antiseptic? Diptych?

As Nebuchadnezzar would tell you the feet are at the base of the person and I have been in a phase of attempting to reanimate. Such a boring process. It started with the green card medical blood tests. The doctor would sign off on my application—”Of course, of course,” he said, smiling and raising both hands while the pacific elbows rested on his desk. He charged patients peanuts, his trainees’ schools an arm and a leg, and everything about his paper-based and ramshackle office was clearly set up exactly as he wanted it and against his direction I was powerless. “You must find some explanation, or. Perhaps you are not curious?”

I’ve done vitamins and the slow drag of forcing myself into lifting, fine, the chemical composition of my blood has improved. Fine. Using muscles and experiencing pain and soreness is good, I can do that. Fine. What I’m really struggling with is the release. Because I used both hands to “pay attention to” my feet. Flexed them and bent each toe. At one point put the fingers of my right hand between the toes of my left feet. I can only apologize for how gross it is to narrate this and continue. I moved the fingers a little and felt something in my skeleton singing. 

It was a singing like the way that some releases approach, from a long way away but a distance of the sort you might see on your deathbed in the hallucinatory world, in that it is actually coming from far, far away within you. From a great depth perceiving sunlight dancing on the surface of the water; the oncoming monster shaking the earth.

Must have been a weird sensory fluke, like a shiver or an ear-clean. I tried again and this time it was much worse. I kept going and did the other foot. This one was less intense but it showed me the contour of the sensation in the left. I did not feel any kind of direct logical revelations. Instead I thought, I cannot believe this

Today, now that all the bath unguents have absorbed and I am left only with an ongoing emotional vibration in my left lower limb that nothing can get rid of, the song is more like deafening. I am going to look up what I wrote at the time about when I hurt my ankle. I say “hurt” because I figured it was just sprained but it was really a bad sprain. It hurt for a good eighteen months. 

We sat on the grass, J and I, as the fundament heaved through my body. The white flash in my ankle was surging up through my organs, pooling around that spot you feel the instant before you vomit. I closed my eyes. 

Oh. Nope. 

Opened them again. Feel the green under your hands, and under that the soil, I thought. 

Without thinking about it, I reached into my backpack and rolled a joint, I guess following the logic of brandy administered for Alpine shocks (by dogs? Can that be true?), and sucked it like a baby.

Around thirty seconds earlier, the skateboard I was on hit a twig, that’s all, and I fell down—I am not, never have been, and now never will be a good skater. But it was Covid and summer, and J always seemed to be on my stoop or arriving to meet me at the park on his skateboard, and my other friends were into being gawky adult learners too, so why not. He was really very good. He had a wheelsiness to him, like my other friend M, who has every type of vehicle: bike, motorbike, car, rollerskates.

It was just like the moment a rollercoaster car pauses before the plunge, which is a moment so foundationally nauseating to me that I dream about it all the time. I hate that feeling in the solar plexus. At Eurodisney I only went on Dumbo, then sat piously on benches, reading an upsetting book that I couldn’t put down because then I’d have to admit that I did not want to go on Thunder Mountain. In the dappled sunshine of one of Brooklyn’s lesser parks on a summer day during the first year of the pandemic I had no such luck.

I remembered that document as a crevasse filled to its brim by frozen liquid pain, ha. What if I just dipped into my diary notes, I had thought, and brought forth the blazing proof of my inner life, the true document of the moment, just like a real personal essayist? But that’s all I put down, about the fucking Alpine dogs and the joint. 

I didn’t write about how after I fell, I just kind of sat there on the ground, while my board continued on slowly to greet a young woman sitting on a bench. She casually asked me if I was okay, and I said yes and laughed, but obviously continued sitting. I called to my friend, who was doing compulsive loops of the footpath on his bike. Hey, he said, smiling broadly, as he strolled up to us. He’d thought I had made a friend and was just sitting in the middle of the path. 

His mind! He left town, came back, some other things. He passed away and he had the kind of mind that sees two people thrust in a strange situation and reads it for something completely different—the kind of thing he would do. After he died somebody said that people liked how J made them feel about themselves, which is true, but not quite as selfish as it sounds, because he saw other people like he saw everything. 

The ankle hurt like crazy for a long, long time and I did nothing to help it until I forgot about it. Now that I’m lifting weights heavy enough to feel dangerously emotional, there came along “take care of your feet” day. The bath, the faraway tread of the monster whose eyeball will come up to your window, the possibility of the sun in a cave in a deep sea trench, the fear, the fall, the continued motion of the board, me on my arse looking like something else to him.