by HAROLD SLAZER
I was in a series of accidents when I was 19. I was hit by a van while riding my bike on Halloween, slipped on the flight of stairs on Thanksgiving, wrecked my Mother's car at Christmas and was in another car accident on my birthday, in May, with my Mother behind the wheel. All causing different forms of head trauma.
My last accident, on my birthday, I remember being put back on a bus and sent back to college, in Richmond. Only to be woken up the next morning to a loud sound, not knowing who I was, where I was and what was going on. A young man popped out of the room next door to mine and said "we are going to be late" and like Alice through the looking glass I was running after some rabbit, or guy down the rabbit hole, as we took off to take a final exam in dramatic literature class.
Like dreams I have had since, And probably before, I was in a bright room, where I knew no one and a strange man placed a test in front of me and I was asked to fill it out.
Finishing, way before my other classmates, I was told I would probably fail, only to get one of the highest grades in the class, I was out the door and lost.
I knew where we came from and how to get back but not sure where to go next. I ended up in the quad, where students gathered, a sea of strangers with the periodic Hal, Harold or Harry thrown into the mix. Not knowing that was my name at the time and pissed when I realized it must be, like a rabbit I felt I knew I had to hide my injury from these over friendly strangers. As they do so as not to be eaten.
After several confusing days, missed test, rescheduled test, not able to memorize my final monologue for acting, strangers acting like lovers, crying and praying for some order. A knock came at my door, an older friendly gentleman asked if I was packed and ready to go. My Father. Quickly, I grabbed all I had and started shoving it into boxes and suitcases and handing it to the man, my father, as I realized yet another forgotten memory.
Later, he told me he realized something was wrong as we talked about his new home as if I'd already been there. I was heading there when the accident occurred and had never seen it before.
As my mind started to mend, over that summer, I found myself wanting to stay asleep more then awake. Still confused, my dreams took me to another World where there was no pain. In this New World I could do anything and I did. Though this New World left me confused about our World and my relationships in it. At one point I believed I was my Father's nephew and had been in an accident with my parents so bad that they were hiding it from me. I could no longer remember my childhood and the few friends who came by never came back again. My energy was low and I just could not pretend to know another stranger and I am sure they left feeling not important anymore.
As I met knew friends I felt there was a pull to me of the most manipulative and evilest of characters. I realized my judgement had been wiped clean. The skills I had learned in the sandbox had to be rebuilt and as that took a childhood so did it take my 20's.
About a month or so into my confusion I reached out and told my Mother about my loss of memory, my dreams, my feelings, how I could not remember anything about being small or school or high school. She told me everyone thinks that way and nothing was wrong with me. So it was over a year before I told my Father, home for Thanksgiving, I was in a car on the way to the hospital as soon as he knew.
After hours of test, yes bruises on my brain, spots, several small strokes-healing, memory loss, confusion a series of concussions. I was on my way more scared and confused but at least now i had some answers.
I would get better but never be the same, never really remember.
My Aunt, sent me a clipping about the Minor Head Injury Association. One night, I reached out and called them in tears, the woman on the other end assured me that what I was going through happened to others who had had concussions and that I was not alone. Many are not so lucky as there is a high rate of suicides that come from people with undiagnosed concussions especially the young. The already confused lives of a teenager who happens when cheerleading, playing football or riding their bike hit their head, have a concussion that no one knows about. I reached out.
Head injuries can be serious and change lives but that life is still yours and finding a way to take it back may take sometime but It will happen.
I was so grateful for that conversation with someone who made me feel okay.
Side note. A few months later I got a note from the woman I talked to on the phone; she had gotten a promotion with the company. The note said she was going to quit the night we chatted and my story made her realize why she was doing what she was doing and was using our story to help others understand the need for a larger reach for minor head injury awareness.
Harold Slazer is from San Antonio Texas and Sterling Park, Virginia. He has been living in New York for over 30 years, the last 10 with his partner, John McGowan, their two dogs Little and Sparty and Cat Arnold. Slazer has produced, written and directed over 300 shows in New York City. Including "The Honeysuckles" which he has sold to Fox television, "Me Me Me! The Contessa Claudia Fontaine Story", "The Mis-Adventures of Chelsea Clinton" and "Homo-matrimony"
He runs a weekly writing group in the East Village as well as helps other writers put up their shows and now runs an acting class at Middle Church on Monday's. He has been working on a new version of "The Honeysuckles" where he and a friend play all the characters in a small town, they hope to sell it again to Fox.