An Ink Free Year

Yesterday I turned 29.  One year older on the clock, and about 20 years older in effect.  I'd planned on getting a leaf tattooed on my right calf as a birthday present, but like so much else, it didn't work out.  Since I turned 18, I've gone and had birthday tattoos more than half the years.  Never on my actual birthday, but as my present to myself when scheduling allowed.  I've been to a few shops here in Portland, but never felt right in one.  Last year I got my stars (my only tattoo since moving back from Bellingham) in Seaside where I got my first sword a day shy of 11 years ago.

That same day 11 years ago, Andrew Nygaard died at the Seaside pool.  He got hit in the chest by a medicine ball while doing dryland exercises after practice, died, crumpled to the deck, and never came back.  This year has the same week pattern as 1998: my birthday on Wednesday and the 12th on Friday.  I was just back to the pool in time to see the ball slip through his hands and watch him crumple to the deck through the office windows and down the length of the pool.  I still remember my first reaction: someone has to ensure the medics get from their ambulance to him as directly as possible, and no one is going to think about that.  So while everyone rushed about their business, I sat on the bench outside and waited to direct them through the correct door upon their arrival.  It's was fucking weird, but I was correct that no one else bothered to come outside.

The marks on my body are my own.  All put there by others, but they're there for me, even though I can't see most of them without a mirror.  Every time June rolls around, I think of my sword and Andrew.  And of Judy, his mom.  I skipped practice that day.  It was a chaotic time.  Just graduated from high school.  Off to Arizona on a swimming scholarship.  I barely swam that whole month.  I barely did anything that whole month.  It was a weird time.

It was a time of floating, like that split second when the clutch is all the way in as you slide from one gear to the next.  Everything was in flux.  Probably the case for most high school graduates who know they're shipping off to some remote college.  I feel like that again.  There is nothing here for me except responsibilities I have to fulfill until life slides into gear again.  I just hope it's not shifting from 5th -> reverse.

3 responses to “An Ink Free Year”

  1. JesterXL

    I turned 30 2 months ago, and I still feel 23. We're so lucky to be in technology. So, I can confirm in yet another year, you have the possibility of knowing that "being 30″ doesn't mean "not feeling 29″. BTW, it's Friday! Here's to hoping you find your high-gear soon.

  2. Carole

    Happy belated birthday. I always forget we're exactly one month apart; I'm July 11. I remember the time you're talking about and I know that "in flux" feeling too well. I hate that feeling and I hope things settle into happiness for you very soon.

  3. Daniel Ave

    Barn i was there ANdrew died in my arms . the first thing we did was call 911, We had a protocol for the life responders you were very confused and we all were in a state of shock. In our "emergency action plan" (which is required by the Sate of Oregon) there was an assigned person to direct the EMS thank you for doing it too. Another thing, from an eye wittness, he dropped the ball. It did not hit him in the chest. The Drs and counselers told us his heart just stopped the Mball had NOTHING to do with it. You kinda derailed and went off reservation for a while after that, so the details may have been lost to you. I think about it EVERY day if you want … now that we've both grown up… wecan talk about it