Kentucky Home Stretch

Sometimes a series of logical events or decisions, quite logical and sensible at the outset, leads to a condition of absurdity. As a friend stated recently, ?I am so far behind that I am leading.?

That is how I end up voiceless in a hotel in Kentucky wearing a Churchhill Downs sweatshirt on a hot day in June.

That doesn?t seem absurd, does it? Not really.

It started, I think, when I got rolled by a wave onto my mom?s beach on Maui. That was January.

Some small grain of sand, or I suspect, coral, lodged in my nose as I was beaten about the head, clutching my swim fins, mask and snorkel. When my feet, having gotten more air than my head, once again felt sand, I pushed to emerge into oxygen just as I was sure my lungs were going to implode. I survived, stood up, walked ashore. I had saltwater and sand in every orifice.

This happened to me once before, when I stepped on the reef near my tutu?s (grandmother?s) home on Oahu. Oh, not the getting rolled, that happens every time I go swimming in the ocean I think. But the coral.

The coral started to grow. I had been a child that other time. The coral grew and festered for a year before my father cut it out with his Swiss Army knife. But that had been in the thick skin of my foot. It didn?t even bleed.

This time it was, best I could tell, coral was growing deep in my maxillary sinus. Soon Nemo would be swimming around in there.

Nemo: Found.
Nemo: Found.

I?m not 100 percent certain, but I?m pretty sure that?s why I had to have a big glob of yuckiness surgically removed from my sinus Friday. Don?t stop reading, that?s it, it doesn?t get worse than that. And it?s gone now. I can breathe again.

SO back to Kentucky.

My kid, who we will call ?Seth,? a high school graduate (as of last week) headed for a career in jazz with full tuition scholarship to a great music school, has wanted to go to the Aebersold Jazz Summer Workshop held in Louisville every summer for as long as he can remember.

We signed him up and he was super excited to learn a hot saxophonist named ?Chris Potter? would be here this week.

So when my Doctor told me I?d have to have surgery a few weeks ahead of this, no worries, I?d still be able to drive Seth out there, go camping for a week and finish my book, then drive him back.

But my surgery got delayed because, oh, you have to have a physical and a bunch of blood work, a chest xray, an ekg ? this is surgery.

I learned this the day after I landed in California where I?d flown to accomplish a few familial tasks. Tasks including repairing the irrigation system around our former home following the kicking-out of a disastrous tenant. In the 100 degree F+ heat. The other task was destroying the files of my mother-in-law?s medical office, which had been sealed up for ten years post-retirement.

As I worked on these tasks I waited on calls and appointment requests to get the surgery-prep done right there in California. Turns out there?s health-care crisis going on in rural northern California. No appointments until late July.

So long story short my surgery is postponed until June 26.
Seth has to be at the jazz workshop June 27, 9 a.m.

No problem, I?ll get out of surgery at 5 p.m. at the latest and he can drive. I?ll just sit there and enjoy my pain meds.

The doctor was not happy.

But really, sit at home by myself with a shedding dog worrying about my 17-year-old driving to Kentucky by himself? No, I don?t think so.

But luck I have still. I arrived at the surgical place before 7 a.m. There was Nemo, swimming around in a big tank in the waiting room. As omens for sinus surgery go, this was pretty dang good.

Sure enough, by noon:thirty we were on the road to Kentucky.

Fast forward to current dilemma.

I can?t talk, I have no voice. This can happen after a two-hour surgery during which a breathing tube is forced down your throat. I know, I read about it on the internet. It can take a year to recover.

OR it can happen when you read aloud for 8 hours trying to keep your teenager from closing his eyes while driving.

Either way, not talking is not actually a problem in itself.

The problem is, the best I can see, Kentucky has to offer three main things: bourbon, horse racing and an absolutely charming way of talking, a southern drawl. Of those three, the one item to which I am succumbing completely is that last one.

So how do I get them to talk, without having a voice of my own?

I have to recover.

Having given my sweatshirt to Seth, who complained the seminars were being held in a refrigerator, I tried to figure out the temp control in my hotel room. I had it just right for about 15 minutes. Did I mention that I?m perimenopausal? That means I have hot flashes. So for about 15 minutes the temp was perfect.

Then I was freezing.

I needed a break so I headed to the Churchhill Downs Museum and Gift Store. Maybe I could get a nice sweatshirt from the clearance rack, one in blue with horses on it.

Turns out the gift shop is all about dinner table-sized ladies? hats and Big-Gulp sized mint julep cups. But I did find a tomato-red sweatshirt. No horses.

Couldn?t say I like it. Couldn?t say anything actually.

I just handed over my cash and smiled when the cashier asked if odd lock my receipt in ma bayag. Bag–two syllables.

Y?all havva nahss deh.


By Maile

Maile Field is a writer living in Northern California. Born in Hawaii and raised in Montana, she earned her master of fine arts in nonfiction at George Mason University in Virginia. She encourages constructive criticism.