The time I broke my arm

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:

Google Maps image of the old 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt, now the American Consulate
Google Maps image of the old 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt, now the American Consulate

What do think?