The Greatest Gift of All

A year ago tonight I was walking the three blocks from Nick's Beer Garden to my old apartment when a man - still unidentified - crept up behind me as I was about to open the gate to my building, put me into a half-nelson, jammed a gun into my back and said to give him all the money I had on me, which at that particular moment was zero dollars.

From there it degenerated into an ugly mess of me getting shot at in the alley along that block of Wood Street, lots of swearing, a poor attempt at fighting back, and eventually losing my cell phone and a lot of blood through two separate head wounds received from the barrel end of that still-unidentified man's handgun. Nine millimeter, if I had to guess on a model.

I still have two scars from that night, one just behind the left temple and the other somewhere along the top of my head. I keep my hair really short so anyone can see them, but it's funny having those types of reminders and battle damage to show to the world.

Turn to the side to shave the left half of my face; there's my gun wounds.

Take off my hat in winter; there's my gun wounds.

Smile and bow; there's my gun wounds.

Look to see what's going on over there; there's my gun wounds.

This was what I was given for Christmas last year: a brush with death and a pair of constant reminders that it can happen any time. All it takes is a three-block walk and someone with even less to lose than you think you do.

After the shock and paranoia wore off (which, thankfully, it did), it was odd to see what happens. You don't fear much after something like that. Rejection, failure, loneliness...awful as they are, they aren't the end of the world. Life, despite whatever bad news that beautiful girl has for you, and despite the best-laid plans falling to pieces, and despite the possibility that sometimes things are really really tough, goes on.

Makes you wonder why you were so afraid of them in the first place.

In the back of the ambulance I remember thinking two things:
1) I'm not going to make it.
2) I'd really like to see ___ once more.

I was wrong about #1, which in turn lent new gravity to #2: tomorrow is not just another day, it's another chance.

Here's to another tomorrow, for now and forever.