“Braced and Bedazzled,” holds a time in my life I waded in shame.
This essay, every essay, behaves much like a time capsule.
I’d returned to undergrad school after leaving a domestic violent marriage. Soon after, my cervical spine gave way—an old injury taking its toll. I had three young sons to care for, without family, without child support. School seemed my only hope towards a new career path – one out of the fitness industry where I’d honed my identity as an athlete and trainer – and into my dream of creative writing and psychology. A career I felt I could achieve even if my head were strapped in a wheel chair and the use of my hands never returned.
“Braced and Bedazzled” captures these challenges. My three sons and I – lived on welfare, on food-stamps, in section 8 housing. Lived on hope. And when hope failed me, we lived on the hope of others. Like Manuel Guerra, my Vocational Rehab counselor, who kept me going, who believed in me more than I did. And Steve, at Eagle Physical Therapy, week after week across two years, pouring continuous encouragement over my pity party. Steve re-built me, not just in body, he re-built me in spirit and kindness.
And my sons. Gawd. These three young men. They have been my constant source of all things good and kind and loving and sparkly. They have been my reason for every achievement in my life since 2001.
And Boise State University. The accommodations and support from my professors and instructors, who lifted me, semester after semester. I find it no coincidence that here, almost a decade later, I’m an adjunct with BSU, a position I took last month. An opportunity to give back and support new writers.
And then there’s my writerly tribe who read and re-read this essay: Lisa Peterson and Rachel Hollon James. Thank you Lovelies for your love and sacred space with my narrative. To have writers that trust you, that you trust, is so special. Thank you for this gift.
And the beautiful Gayle Brandeis, who mentored me and the essay collection that “Braced and Bedazzled” sits in conversation with. Gayle held me up my entire second semester during my first MFA at the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe Fine Arts
And YES. The Rumpus! This journal is a journal I admire, I read and dwell and think deeper. I’m grateful for the page space where I can safely share a vulnerable time in my life.
In September, The Rumpus swirled in narratives themed with disability and education. My narrative is surrounded with pages of powerful words and heart that have changed my lens. I’m thankful for these brave writers. I’m honored to share space with them in The Rumpus.
I’m humbled. I’m Braced. I’m Bedazzled.
NOTE: The names of my sons and others are altered in this essay. Steve gave permission to use his name. And so it is.