This fact has come up a few times in the past few weeks: I used to fall down the stairs a lot.
I think it's kind of funny, but I'm going to stop saying it. It makes people uncomfortable, like I just told them the black eye is from walking into a door.
Part of it is that I'm clumsy and I used to take the stairs too fast for my feet.
I've never broken anything during these falls, though of course, that's what I'm thinking when my feet first start to slip. I see myself clearly, a heap of fucked up angles at the bottom of the stairs.
My arms shoot out, grab the banister on one side, press hard into the wall on the other. This is enough to keep me mostly upright, landing hard, sliding just 4 or 5 stairs, it grinds me to a shuddering halt, to catch my breath with my head between my legs.
Really, I exaggerate - I haven't fallen down the stairs in a few years now. In fact, there were only two points in my life where I was falling with alarming regularity. The first time I lived with a partner. The second time I lived with a partner.
Two days after you fall down the stairs, it hurts like a motherfucker, your whole body, like somebody beat the shit out of you.
The first time handstand came up in one of my yoga classes, I thought, "Hey, no problem, I rocked the handstand in Grade 9."
I put my hands cavalierly on the floor and my lizard brain said "No." Not loud, but certainly assured.
You have to know when the lizard brain knows what it's about, and when it's just flapping its gums.
This, I thought, was mere flapping.
So. Shoulders above elbows above wrists? Check. Gaze between my hands? Check. Hips up as high and as close to over my shoulders as they'll go? Neither high nor far, but check. Pick a leg to kick up with? Check.
"No," the lizard said again. "No no no no no no. No."
Flapping flapping. I kicked and I kicked, but, it must be said, in a pretty perfunctory matter. Turns out I was with the lizard on this one.
It's not even an upside down thing. I'm getting much better at standing on my head and have come to really enjoy doing so. The lizard has never said no to that.
For some reason, this week was the week I decided to actually try handstand. I really kicked, and at one point, my foot touched the wall. A first. I got really excited and thought "There, that's what it feels like. I just need to do that again."
But I couldn't - my body wouldn't. I felt like I kicked just as hard, but I could tell my leg was only going up about 65% of what it had just done.
No instructor has ever tried to help me in handstand before. It's certainly not because I didn't need the help. Rather, I suspect that, perhaps unconsciously, they could tell I wasn't actually trying to do it.
This week was the week that the instructor came over to help me.
He told me he was going to assist, I kicked up, he grabbed my ankle, I tried to come leadenly down, he held me up. I got both legs up, staring at the floor. Trying to breathe.
It was hard and I could barely manage; my chest cavity had filled with viscous terror. I knew that after I came down I'd be heading right to the bathroom, where I would sit fully clothed on the toilet, shaking, dry sobbing.
While I was up there, my arms, sure, were shaky, and my core was wonking all over the place. I didn't realize that until the next day, when my entire body ached, the way it aches after you fall down the stairs.