Louisville, KY

an attempt to find some semblance of sense

in the northernmost forest

of the deep Southern Abyss


Rom Villaseran, Playmates, acrylic on canvas, 48 in. x 48 in., 2008, image posted with the permission of the artist.


Rom Villaseran, Playmates, acrylic on canvas, 48 in. x 48 in., 2008, image posted with the permission of the artist.

river blues

I squint my eyes,

looking in the direction of the sun, westward,

as it sets just above the long steel bridge,

sitting across the length of this great mud stained river.

This swelling water basin separates so much

and so little

A test

In the midst of a summer full of promise and growth I hit a bump in the road. I am an active person with a nearly insatiable energy level. I am accustomed to swimming, running, riding a bicycle, kayaking, playing multiple sports, hiking, walking everywhere etc etc and I had reached a point where I felt as in shape as I had since playing multiple sports in high school. Perhaps I was overconfident or had succumbed to my narccistic, 25yr old, machismo view of invincibility…or maybe it was a freak occurrence.

Regardless of the profundities or reasons I assign to my injury, it has occurred and there is no “do-over”.
Last Monday I was playing basketball in my weekly league when I tore my right ACL. After playing with the same group of guys every single Monday for over a year I had improved my game to the extent of being regarded as the best player on the court by the other teams and my teammates. Basketball had become my primary release of tension, pressures, and competitiveness in any area of my life and this particular Monday was no different.

With my team losing by 6points I had begun to exert my will on the other squad, asking for the ball and singlehandedly scoring 8 in a row on back to back to back possessions. The competitive monster inside of me was raging full force as I then stole a pass and streaked down the court towards the basket. A defender awaited in between me and the goal and as I planted my right leg in order to make a move around him my body twisted one way as my knee remained planted forward.

I felt a pop and immense pain shoot through me as I hit the floor in agony. Everything else stopped as I simply writhed about on the floor, choking back tears and waiting for the initial pain to subside…which never happened. My friend drove me home and I can remember trying not to throw up in the passenger seat, drowning myself in water from my nalgene bottle, and reassuring myself that it would be alright. I had hyperextended my left knee several times in high school and college so I was really hoping that would be the extent of my right knee injury. I took some pain killers and anti inflammatory meds, texted my boss that I would check in with him in the morning, and tried to sleep…to no avail. I MAYBE slept one hour that night as my knee throbbed and the slightest movement caused extreme discomfort.

I skipped work and set up an appointment with the Ortho doctor the next day. A lot of thoughts ran through my head over that period of time but aside from fearing the worst I had reasons to feel optimistic. Unfortunately the doctor dashed those feelings after a brief investigation of my leg. The X-Ray was negative but he believed I had torn my ACL and so we set up an MRI for that night. “Shit” was all I kept thinking. This could be bad…but still nothing was confirmed and so there was reason for optimism.

If you’ve never gotten an MRI it’s hard to describe but essentially you are put in a large loud tube of lasers, where you can’t move for 20minutes and strange noises emit around you every few moments. In order to make you more comfortable the Tech gives you headphones, mine let me choose a Pandora station, to drown out the machine and its weird futuristic computer clamor. I chose the Fleet Foxes station because I thought it would calm me and because I know a lot of their songs are over 4 and a half minutes long. The assistant asked me to straighten my knee as much as possible(consequently not very much) and then straightened it for me(painful). Sure enough after counting 3 songs in I fell asleep before being jostled right back awake because we were finished.

An MRI slices through your body like a loaf of bread making thousands of little images of tissue, bone, muscle, and all the other inhabitants of your skin. It was actually quite fascinating to analyze it with my doctor the next day. The MRI confirmed I had torn my ACL, completely in half, and had a deep bone bruise but no other substantial damage.

Since that appointment and as I await surgery next thursday I have been left in a bizarre mental state. Essentially all of the things I enjoy I can no longer participate in for at least another 6months. I am going to have to work very hard in physical therapy to regain my abilities and make sure I can remain active the rest of my life. All of my summer plans are now kaput…plans to go to shows and festivals, camping/hiking, travel plans, essentially everything that requires two legs…which is all things that are good. I can’t drive or even walk without crutches. I also can’t work because I work outside in a very labor intensive environment so I will soon have no money and no prospects of attaining it. I mean…I can barely sit or lay down comfortably.

I am reduced to a couch sloth, already tired of reading books and watching television, afraid of slipping into an alcoholic binge and eating myself into low self esteem. My blessed friends are trying to pull me out to bars and events but it’s pretty hard to show up to some hip place on crutches and answer a million times what has happened and what will happen. What will happen? Jesus christ, I don’t know. I have a vague idea of how painful and difficult it is going to be but there must be so many unforseen difficulties and bumps in the road that it makes me sick to think about.

Plus regardless of the surgery, rehab, crippling depression and endless free time… I will most certainly be forever changed by this. I will undoubtedly always favor my right knee, worry about re injuring it, limit myself in activities that I once never even thought about yadayadayada. Fuck it’s gonna be a long road. Why me? Why now? Did this happen for a reason? I must think so, for my own well being.

This time next year I hope I’m alright. I hope I’m healthy, happy and in a much better place….but for now i can’t even see past tomorrow.