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In this article, through the use of several narrative devices, the author reflects on how the past remains in the present and shapes the future. Using the metaphor of locating oneself on a writing-map, she writes about fact and fiction, autobiography, and coauthorship. The author finds that writing about one's spatial-temporal locations is a powerful tool for the relocation of the self--physically, symbolically, and emotionally.
Riverside Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, 1972
My face was broken: the cheekbones, the jaw. My head had gone through the windshield and then my leg, as the seat broke backwards, and then my face again, and my pelvis and my ribs hitting things, or being hit, ricocheting. I have a body memory of my right eye out of its socket, lying in wetness on my cheek. And then there was blackness, unconsciousness, coma.
The emergency squad had lifted me, carefully, tenderly, onto the gurney, telling me I would be okay. The emergency room doctor had taped my ribs and braced my left leg; an ophthalmologist had restored my eye to its socket; a neurosurgeon had checked my brain; a plastic surgeon had reconstructed my face and wired my broken jaw; nurses checked my IV, cleaned up after me, and kept my leg in a sling hanging from the ceiling. Everyone was kind, or so I like to believe.
Soon after I come out of the 10-day coma, two senior full professors from The Ohio State University sociology department appear at my bedside bearing a small box. Everything that does not hurt is numb. My mouth is wired shut.
"Jeez, Hank. You got the poor girl caramels." The speaker takes the box from Hank.
"Caramels? What's your point, Chet?"
"Well, for starters, look at her."
"Oh. Sorry, Laurel," says Hank.
They stand awkwardly at the foot of the bed. They are wearing buckeye pins in their buttonholes. It is football season. Chet is absently removing the candy box's cellophane wrapping. He removes a brown cube, pops it into his mouth, and commences chewing. "Uh . . . they ged stale," Chet mumbles.
"After a month or two, maybe," says Hank.
"Speaging of stale," Chet says, "that dolt we hired in last year?"
"The one we hired on a 1-year contract?"
"Never fit in," Hank says. "Guy's so out of it his name's vanished from my mind. Laurel? You know who we're talking about."
"Mmmff," I say, pointing to my mouth.
Chet pops another caramel into his mouth. "Mmmmff, huh?" He is ruminating.
"Actually, Laurel, his name is sort of unforgettable--Culvert Throckmorton the Third," says Hank.
Chet swallows. "Mmmff," he mimics contemplatively. "Old Throck's secret nickname."
"With a name like Culvert Throckmorton, anything is possible," Hank says. "Oh, listen, Laurel. As long as we're here we wanted to remind you of the promotion and tenure meeting. You're up . . . remember?"
"Chewsday," Chet says. "We heard you came out of it yesterday."
"He means we heard today. About the coma," Hank clarifies.
"About you coming around, he means," says …