Posted: 20 May 2006 in therapy

It’s funny how one of my favorite sounds, the gentle creeping creak of a wooden ship rocking on the waves, sound just like one of my least favorite sounds. Granted, I’ve never heard an actual wooden ship creak, despite having been in fair share of them – everything from huge twenty-man row boats that leaked as much as they floated and tiny, sleek sailboats that slipped soundlessly across open water. But there are plenty of opportunities in film to hear ships creak, their masts swaying slightly, the deck giving with the rolling waves, the wooden oars shifting against their metal brackets. Movies are rich with the sound, and I’m likely to watch a film I never would all the way through if I think there’s a chance that a ship might creak. I sometimes imagine the sound as I’m falling asleep lulled by the creak potential in my head. Yes, I know, I’m crazy.

On the other hand, I spent an entire three days confronted by that awful sound, menacing me at every turn and keeping me from fully enjoying where I was and what I was doing. Last September, I was on a deck that collapsed, falling straight down with 30 or so people aboard, crashing into the ground about 15 feet down. I shattered my ankle and a number of my colleagues and friends broke feet, sliced scalps, snapped wrists and generally took a beating. It could have been so much worse – of course it could have been. Someone could have been underneath. Someone could have been killed. The one pregnant woman among us had just left the deck to go inside. Thank goodness. But, I was hurt and, more hurt, clearly, than I thought.

Every seven weeks I have to return to the same place – a remote (30 miles from the hospital, believe me, I know) resort complex, fully rustic, dotted with wooden cabins elevated off the ground, with wooden steps, wooden floors, wooden paths and, yes, wooden decks. I’m okay as long as the wind doesn’t blow, and no one walks too heavily, and I don’t have to stand on a deck. But friends, that’s practically impossible. In fact, in order to do my job, what I’m paid to be there doing, often involves doing those very things. On a day to day basis, I’m fine. And a creak sounds like a solid, rocking ship. But when I’m there, or when I’m anywhere standing on something wooden – hell, if you’re standing on something wooden and I’m on solid ground – a creak sounds like panic, fear and pain.

Bonus points if you, too, like ships.


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