In my first piece for Al Jazeera America, I wrote about a scary day at the beach, the precarity of freelancing, and all these wild emotions I've felt about getting health insurance for the first time in nearly four years. This is the first piece in a long time that caused me to cry while writing it.
From the opening:
On a warm afternoon in July three years ago, I played in the water at the beach on Belle Isle in Detroit. It was a spontaneous stop after a day of dancing, eating and the energetic company of my friend and his two great kids. Perhaps the buoyantly unfurling day was to blame for my inflated sense of my acrobatic abilities, as I found myself doing a backflip into the water. It was only four feet deep. My head hit earth. My legs crumpled. My scalp cracked and bled. I needed help tottering to shore. If not for persistent efforts to keep me talking, I would have promptly passed out on a beach towel.
For the next 40 minutes, my friend asked me questions. What is the name of this flower? Who is the president? Words came slowly. I kept sliding into the dangerous black sleep that slunk at the edges of my mind. A police officer asked if he could call an ambulance. When I said no, he urged us to go to a hospital ourselves. This was my head that we were talking about. “The brain, it’s the main computer,” he said, several times. “You don’t want to take any chances.”
He was right. But did I go to a doctor? No. I did not.
Instead, I went home. While I laid on my futon, my friend trawled the Internet for articles on how to treat head injuries. He didn’t let me sleep for more than 20 or so minutes at a time.
The next morning, I got up, brushed my hair and got on with the day.
There was no willful pride in this. No stubborn sense of immunity. I didn’t go to a doctor because I didn’t have health insurance. Medical costs frightened me more than my bleeding, concussed head did.