I haven’t written about this much, but I’ll say it now: I’m a klutz.
When I was a little kid, I was always falling down and skinning my knees. Now, I did eventually become a runner, first a sprinter in elementary school and later a cross country runner in middle school (before puberty came along and made it impossible to compete like I had before, taking away my aerodynamic runner’s physique). But the path there was paved with lots of grass stains and gravel embedded into my skin.
I’ve had to learn rather intentionally how to move through spaces. I survey them as I walk, in order to help myself navigate and not bump into stuff. Still, I end up with a ton of mystery bruises. It was particularly bad when I was speed packing and DIY-ing in order to sell a 100-year-old house in need of TLC, so I could join my husband on a cross country move. Strange bruises all over me. Because I was hurrying, on a time crunch, and because I was focused on doing tasks completely new to me. Wielding tools that I hadn’t even known the names of before necessity and YouTube University thrust me into a whole new world.
Learning to drive in the big city was also fraught for me. I never hit anything, but I always felt like I was about to, not having a good sense of where my car was in relation to other things (and in the country things were so spread out that I never had to learn). This was maddening to anyone who rode with me, as I’d leave far too much room when passing parked cars. I’m sure I looked completely demented to other motorists.
It Matters Even More Now That I’m a Klutz. Thanks, Pandemic.
Visuospatial awareness isn’t my thing. I’ve accepted this.
And then the pandemic hit. All of a sudden, certain physical tasks became extremely important. My routine for hand-washing, timing out packages, taking out packing materials, stripping down and showering after I’ve returned from going to shared trash and recycling areas in my building. My procedure for putting on my mask and securing it in a way that it will fit tightly, and I won’t be tempted to straighten it (thereby making it significantly less hygienic).
They are little fiddly physical things. Taking out the trash, I have to remember which hand touched what, particularly if I’m keep one hand “clean” and one hand “dirty” (something I’ve done in the past for certain tasks). To move through the established process involving my keys and shirt sleeves and doors and levers and locks. And to make sure I don’t screw up what can sometimes feel like a special move in Street Fighter. A combo of button presses that are easy to zone out of.
And no matter what, don’t touch my face with the dirty hand.
The good news is that I can do this. So far, so good. I’ve had times where it wasn’t as efficient as I wanted to be. Sometimes I’ve had to wash my hands an extra time because I I forgot to set something up beforehand — for example, I didn’t take out the trash bin from the cupboard it’s kept in before going out and touching dirty things. So I might have to wash my hands, open the cupboard and bring out the bin, throw in packaging, and then wash my hands again.
That sort of thing.
But I can do it.
The bad news is that it’s exhausting. And something that was a minor quirk before now feels like a much bigger deal. Because it matters more than ever that I’m a klutz.