I was editing footage of my double hammocks act to submit for a show, and I found a video of my last performance on that apparatus from about a year ago. It was 3 weeks after I had been in a massive car accident that I was incredibly fortunate to walk away from, but still feel when it rains over a year later. This was also about 2 weeks before my significant other moved to South America, and I found out my good friend and roommate of 2 years was moving out on short notice. My best friend’s dog died within those few weeks, and that was a hard hit, too. It was a rough month at La Maison.
I didn’t stop performing, and my friends and family thought I was crazy. I took precautions, modified my acts, and could only train for about an hour at a time before exhaustion. I was going to my chiropractor three times a week, and he never told me I couldn’t keep doing what I do. He gave me restrictions, no crazy drops and no hanging from my neck. “Nothing that will cause a whiplash motion.” And that made sense, given that I was recovering from severe whiplash.
I talked about the accident a lot right after it happened. It felt necessary, so people around me would know why I was a mess. Why I couldn’t physically do the things I’d been doing before. I didn’t want to be seen as weak, I wanted people to know this wasn’t really me, this was the result of this thing that happened to me. I was also trying to make sense of the accident. Driving home from a gig, I had reacted sharply to a car about to hit me, and I didn’t think I had lost control, but then suddenly I was perpendicular to traffic. As I decided to hit the cement median rather than roll my tiny car on the 4 lane freeway, I thought, “This is what happens when people lose consciousness or die on impact, everything is going to go black now. I hope we wake up in the hospital.” And then neither of us blacked out. My little tiny engine block took the hit for us, and our seatbelts kept us in place. What I didn’t know as we were out of control is that the car that I was trying to avoid, being driven by an unlicensed 15 year old and 4 of her friends after midnight on a Saturday night, had hit my car just in front of the back right tire, sending us flying. (Wear your seatbelt. Teach your kids responsibility before you teach them just enough to hurt themselves and others. Get med-pay on your car insurance, and full collision if your car is not a beater.)
That moment of surrender–accepting that the situation was beyond my control, and that it might mean the end of mine and my passenger’s lives. It was an incredible release, the most guilt I have ever felt, and a deep loss all at once, and those feelings were a fog that lingered for weeks after.
I had committed to performing an act for Yerba Buena Night, and we were playing with stillness in our presentation of acts. I spent the day leading up to the show regretting that I hadn’t cancelled This was what came of it. It is not my most virtuoso act or my cleanest performance, but it’s one of the most expressive performances I have given, and it is an accurate portrait of what was happening in my life at that moment. Sometimes I need limitations to push me in ways I wouldn’t otherwise explore.