Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Delivery Boy

Yesterday, I performed unusual courier duties for a close relation of mine. And I wasn’t entrusted with delivering any old package to any old place. No, this was something special—an invaluable fluid coveted by a certain medical institution. To be more specific, I delivered a urine sample to Memorial Sloan-Kettering cancer hospital on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Life so often drops us in circumstances that not too long ago would have seemed preposterous.

Beginning my journey in the Northwest Bronx, I rode the Number 1 train to Columbus Circle, exited—with the urine safely ensconced in a Trader Joe's shopping bag—and then walked eastward on 59th Street along the periphery of Central Park, which was lined with a fleet of hansom cabs operated by rather non-handsome drivers—a dodgy looking crew if you ask me. I felt bad for the poor horses, which I always do when I spy these noble beasts navigating the mean streets of New York.

Despite having only one biological leg at my disposal, I nevertheless opted to walk across town rather than hop on a bus or a hail a cab. It was a sunny, breezy, and pretty crisp early March morning, but my trusty C-Leg—a computerized knee that nobly attempts to mimic my gait—was definitely up to the task. When I received this state-of-the-art knee, replacing a mechanical one, I asked my prosthetist, “So this leg stops your falls?” He answered, “No…let’s just say that it slows them.” Essentially, with any luck, my new knee would furnish me with the necessary seconds to right myself before I went down for the count. And I can say this much: I’ve had a few close calls that—were I wearing my prior knee—would have landed me on the pavement. But then again, I take many, many more chances with this remarkably stable and trusty friend that I slip on every morning. I walked long distances before—when I was physically whole—and I walk long distances now. I guess there are some things that never change.

In fact, Part A of this New York adventure was such a success that I decided—after turning over the urine sample—to retrace my steps on foot again, but with a slight route change this go-around. I followed the M66 cross-town bus route, which put me on a heavily traveled cross street through Central Park. The sidewalk was a filthy mess and the traffic whizzed by me at high speeds, spewing harsh fumes in my direction. And as a pedestrian crossing in the heart of New York City, it was pretty desolate. I had erred in my return-trip choice of routes, but my C-Leg and I nonetheless overcame the considerable cracks and crevices in the concrete, as well as occasional patches of wet leaves and mud along the way, without a hitch.

At West 66th Street and Broadway, Lincoln Center, where I landed and would catch the subway home, I couldn’t help but recall how I shopped for many years at a multi-storied Tower Records and a Barnes & Noble superstore across the street, which are gone now—casualties of both the times and the passage of time. It seems though that while nothing lasts forever, spanking new and unpredictable adventures await us all.

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