On my way to the studio this morning, I slipped on some black ice and wiped out hard, landing on my “bad” knee (the one I usually landed on during junior high basketball games). It hurt. I felt ridiculous as I fell, limbs comically splayed like a character in a vintage cartoon or an Adam Sandler movie. Fortunately, I soon learned the benefits of injuring yourself at VSC. If you’re lucky, a gifted essayist with publications in Salon and The New York Times will sacrifice some of her own writing time to walk back the Red Mill and bring you bags of ice, fresh water and coffee to replace what you spilled, and ibuprofen. She will clean off your pants, and your coat, and your winter hat which somehow ended up with coffee on it. Later, a former poet laureate who also writes gorgeous children’s books will give you naproxen and sympathy, the talented writer and painter whom you would like to become when you grow up will lend you some magical gel that relieves swelling and halts the bruising process, a sassy, innovative collagist will buy wine and share most of it with you, and a leading expert in modernist women writers will lend you a fancy scarf to wear to cover up the wine you spilled on your shirt while telling the story of your fall.
In addition, you will receive sympathy and concerns from other artists and writers, from a VSC staff member who offers to take you to the doctor, and from a visiting artist, and by the end of the day, your fall on black ice will have lost its sting.