I broke my arm in the fifth grade. The fifth grade itself was a bit fractured for me; I went to three different schools that year. We moved to Wiesbaden, Germany in October of 1992. I usually don’t tell people we moved to Wiesbaden because we were only there a few weeks and I think I went to school there only two or three days. We couldn’t have been in Frankfurt for more than 6 months or so before I broke my arm, so I tend to file it away as a part of my ‘welcome to Germany’ experience. Now, if anyone tells you that I tripped over a soccer ball, don’t buy it. These allegations have been propagated by people (my family) who weren’t even there at the time of the incident. This is what happened… Okay, I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember playing soccer and I do remember falling, and I think I had the ball… anyway, I definitely remember that my arm did not look okay. I was escorted to the school nurse who called my dad at work. My dad takes me to the hospital ‘on post’ (there wasn’t actually a post in Frankfurt; the Army was spread out over the city) where he filled out some paperwork, I’m x-rayed, have my fracture reset, cast put on, and we pop into the pharmacy on our way out to fill my prescription. Apparently, a tiny fracture in one of the bones in my forearm warranted a cast that went all the way up my arm. An old school, heavy plaster cast. The Army was gracious enough to give me an olive-drab cloth to make a sling with. Unfortunately for me, it was my left arm which meant I had to try to learn to write with my right hand. My teacher wasn’t very sympathetic. Señor Figueroa would say “Paul! Your handwriting is atrocious!”. I knew he was joking, though this was the same guy that made us copy definitions from the dictionary when we got in trouble:
“One hundred definitions! And if I hear another word out of you, it’ll be double! Got it?”
“Two hundred definitions!”
He yelled a lot, now that I think about it… and we copied a lot of definitions that year.
There really isn’t a point to this story. I was going to try to tie this into a bigger story of how my view of America is different, or something like that, but I don’t really want to. I just wanted to tell the story. Every now and then I get really nostalgic, longing to go back to this period of my life. So much of how I see the world was shaped by my experiences there. Even mundane day to day tasks were adventures and I suppose that’s what I miss the most. If I’m honest, the thought of ‘settling down’ here scares me. It doesn’t feel right. I don’t feel like I fit in. This doesn’t feel like home.
Just for fun, I found the hospital where they fixed me up on Google Maps: