Lately, I’ve been measuring M.’s willingness to interact with me by one simple metric: the position of my trash can.
I have a large rolling trash can, a dumpster model really, as it holds about 60 gallons in volume. It’s very cheery in a bright green and has sturdy wheels. However, when it is loaded with trash, getting it up and down my steep driveway ramp (I’m on a large treed lot) since my leg injury has been varying degrees of difficult. At first, I just couldn’t do it at all and offered to pay a neighbor boy to do the task for me. When M. found that out, she took umbrage at that and started taking it upon herself to do it for me.
This was very nice and a relief, on the surface. However, it forced me to interact with her on a regular basis, if only to say thanks and then politely inquire as to her well-being, etc.
It’s funny, the doctor’s recommendation of considering an enrollment in physical therapy did not phase me. I knew that I would get better, on my own preferably, because I decided that my independence was a non-negotiable condition. I want to take my own trash can up and down my hilly driveway.
On Sunday evening, my boyfriend lugged the overfull trash can and collapsed boxes and wrappings from a fun weekend of shopping to sit at the curb. He was going out of town and wouldn’t be there on Tuesday, which is my usual trash day. So, today came and went, and after work I raced home – determined to bring the empty trash can up the hill myself.
I realized that as I raced the way home, I was hoping to ‘beat’ M. to the punch, so I wouldn’t have to send an obligatory email or phone call to thank her. I realized that I really had nothing to say to her, and that I didn’t want to inquire about her well-being, because I was afraid she’d actually tell me!
Anyway, I got all the way home, and I saw my trash can sitting empty at the foot of the driveway. M. had probably been home all day, and in any case no one had hauled my trash can up the hill for me. Hip hip hooray!
I took baby steps, as my ankle still does not have the degree of flexibility as before my injury. I have to take a half-step with my good leg, and then use my bad leg to meet it, and the steps need to be small and even to keep my balance. I kept a long-distance line on the phone open with my sweetheart, so he could call someone if I fell. However, I didn’t need any help – I felt a little self-conscious, having to take such little steps all the way up my hill. The important thing is that I did it myself, and I didn’t have to feel obligated or trapped into a conversation with M. that I didn’t want to have.