Seven years ago today I was hit by a car while jogging. I broke my pelvis, tore the tendons in my left knee, fractured the back of my skull—and, as a result, lost my sense of smell. For a long time, I wasn’t okay. Not physically, not emotionally. In an instant, everything had changed. I was 22 years old.
I write about the anniversary of the accident almost every year. I write about it in the same way, even. Short, staccato statements. (Hit by a car. Fractured the back of my skull. Lost my sense of smell.) I’ve thought about the events of that drizzly late-August morning often. I’ve talked about them. I’ve written about them. So much, in fact, it’s difficult for me to remember what happened before all happenings began to exist in the concrete netherworld of typeset and paper.
But every year I like to take a moment to remember where I came from, and how far I’ve come. I recovered, of course, as you all know—slowly, cautiously, but completely. I’m lucky. I’m so lucky sometimes it hurts. For me, August 30th is an emotional anniversary. It’s also a physical one. If I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths, I can feel it in my bones—in the ridge of my pelvis, in the contours of my skull.
Last year, yesterday, I wrote about a dinner that I cooked for my father, stepmother, and Matt. A heaping bowl of spaghetti sauced with little more than the luscious raw tomatoes of August, the bite of a bit of arugula and red onion, a few glugs of olive oil and some grated Parmesan cheese.
I made the same dish again last night for some friends. I hadn’t realized the symmetry of the dates. But it’s not the first time this has happened. In 2009 and 2010 I baked the same plum cake, a simple butter cake that made my kitchen smell sweet and warm, like fruit and caramel and autumn.
And today, as I sit at my kitchen table on this sunny August morning, that feels right. Who am I if I’m not circling back to my past—to events in my past, to the people of my past, to the smells and tastes and flavors of my past? These are the things that have made me who I am. What I am. Where I am. Whether monumental accidents or simple late-summer meals: this is where I’ll return, even as I move forward.