We had just gotten back from a hayride that had weaved through our friend’s property. As I walked down the ramp from the trailer to the ground, I surveyed the festival. There was a topless pavilion, with string lights running all around it. Underneath the pavilion, people were milling about, talking and moving through a very short food line to get at a small buffet of home-cooked food, made by the people that had come. To the left of the pavilion, there was a nice sized fire with about 15 people around it. there were tables behind the fire, with more people around them.
It was near twilight by that time, and the people who had stayed this long were moving closer to the fire. I entered back into the atmosphere of the campfire and began to get back into conversations with friends and acquaintances from Dad’s campaign.
It was full dark by the time Dad decided to pack up the family and tackle the 45-minute drive back to our house. I grabbed a few more cookies and then turned to Dad to tell I would go up to the house to use the facilities. I turned and faced a momentary dilemma. One that would cause great repercussions, but at the time, seemed quite trivial.
I was about two or three yards down from the gateway that led into the gravel road. The road was on the other side of a garden that looked harmless. My dilemma was whether to jump over the garden or walk to the gate and pass through it. In split-second reasoning, I figured that jumping over the garden would be the fastest (and coolest) way to get to the gravel road. I took a few steps and launched into a stiff-legged hop over the garden, expecting to smoothly touch down on the road, followed quickly with kicking into high gear and moving off to the house. Only that wasn’t what happened.
I was intercepted by a two-foot-tall fence. It was a decorative fence, painted black, which blended amazingly with the surrounding darkness. When I jumped, the fence caught my foot and funneled all my momentum and weight straight to the ground. I speared the ground with my shoulder, fracturing it.
As soon as I hit the ground, a girl from the crowd behind me said, “Hey, dude, there’s a fence there!” The thought that ran through my head was that was the dumbest statement at that time, but I decided not to say it. The wind was knocked out of me. I tried to jump up and assure the crowd that had gathered that I was fine, but the sharp pain in my shoulder told me I was wrong. Dad was with me nearly as soon as I “touched down” and he helped me to the house, wanting to make sure that I was alright. I knew that something was seriously wrong when I couldn’t reach up to spin the doorknob.
What followed was an agonizing 45-minute drive over rough, windy, gravel roads. It was tough, but I survived. The only bright spot was that we stopped at a Harps and Dad bought me a bag of lemon drops, which are my favorite candy.
This experience is something that will take me a long time to forget. If there were any takeaways from this disaster it would be this: don’t take the easy road. It’s better to go the long and safer route. Taking the shortcut sometimes causes more trouble than accounted for. I was reminded of that each day for nearly a month. When I rotate my left shoulder, I remember that fateful night, when I took one giant tumble.