All That Silence

My head is at the top of the table marked by the strip of yellow tape. Above me a space-age looking machine whirs above, there's a flash of clear light and the cross-hairs that were projected onto a point on my femur are suddenly gone.
The silence is palpable. It tastes something between desert dehydration and post-vomit bile. These are the seconds when I am trying to remain still, my leg quivers nervously from pain and from not wanting to know: is it broken? Is it badly broken? Will it need surgery? How long in the cast this time? How did all of this happen so quickly? Could I have done something to prevent it?
"Okay you can relax now" the radiologist tells me. Are you kidding?! I want to scream at her. This is not the moment where I can just "relax now.." this is when I wait for the picture to load up onto the screen. Lying on the table I awkwardly crane my neck to see if I can see the computer screen, I catch a glimpse of the x-ray slowly loading onto the monitor, but I'm too far away for even my own x-ray vision to see anything accurately. There is more silence and more nervous sweaty quivering until she tells me "you can have a seat in the waiting room, we'll call your name when it's ready." There is more time for silence out there.

The high school gymnasium was stuffed with row after row of dying-to-be-done-with-high-school teens. All four entrances into the gym could not be propped up any wider, no amount of silly teen flirting could tempt even the tiniest wind to relieve us from the insufferable heat. We are seniors and it is late spring of 2005, it is our awards ceremony for the graduating class.
"This next award goes to...." In fact I don't even remember what I was awarded for. There were things from the debate team, from the school newspaper, from the literary magazine, from the English department, and some other thing. "...For the student who has overcome challenges, persevered.." And suddenly the entire front row in which I was sitting turned to look at me. I pushed my manual wheelchair to the podium where the principal handed me a plaque. I shook his hand, took the plaque, and then the applause died down as the crowd awaited the next announcement, the next student. But the wooden frame was too heavy and bulky to hold in one hand and push with the other. The crowd of curious eyes watched as I probably fumbled a bit, trying to switch the plaque to my other hand. Then I realized that wouldn't work either, in came the seconds of silence waiting and watching for me to figure it out.
At the time and at that moment what I didn't realize was everyone in that room knew I'd be able to figure it out.

I could recount many other moments of silence. Most of which I am anything but comfortable in, and maybe that's just because I'm a person who likes lots of activity and fast-thinking. Silence usually brings a lot of waiting, watching, staring, observing, worrying, and lots of time that seems completely unguided. Shouldn't I be doing something right now? Is something I am constantly thinking, it can get to be too much. To say that I am terrible at silence would be an understatement. I've been trying to make some effort at being more comfortable in silence - and for someone who has an opinion about everything - that is quite a tall order. Without getting too zen or meditative (because I know nothing about either of those subjects), this is what I know so far about silence: it has a mind of its own and it doesn't include yours, it marches to the beat of its own drum unheard by anyone, and like a kite it'll pick up and leave on the next wind that blows past - not by any breath you blow on it.

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