Rachel
Bradley

ET TU, MAMMARIES?

Et tu, mammaries?

I stood in the mirror at the Brea Improv, changing out of workout clothes, getting ready to go on stage. I had driven there in Friday traffic from a Nike audition, starring my feet, running barefoot on a treadmill. I realized my agent and I were overdue for the talk where I explained that when I was 19, my windshield had proven Newton's law by catapulting itself into my right foot sometime between the fourth and fifth SUV somersault. I then took said feet (via plywood/duct tape ambulance) to a small, rural hospital in Marshall, Texas, and had them stitched by a guy with one eye and early onset Parkinson’s, who had an aversion to touching feet.
Et tu, mammaries?

I stood in the mirror at the Brea Improv, changing out of workout clothes, getting ready to go on stage. I had driven there in Friday traffic from a Nike audition, starring my feet, running barefoot on a treadmill. I realized my agent and I were overdue for the talk where I explained that when I was 19, my windshield had proven Newton's law by catapulting itself into my right foot sometime between the fourth and fifth SUV somersault. I then took said feet (via plywood/duct tape ambulance) to a small, rural hospital in Marshall, Texas, and had them stitched by a guy with one eye and early onset Parkinson’s, who had an aversion to touching feet.

I took off my running bra, and like a proud mama, inspected my lady lumps in the mirror. And saw a lump. A large visible lump, distorting the usually seamless majestic landscape that was Rachel's boobs-- so seamless I speak of them in third person. My ta-tas had turned on me. Anything you pay for should never turn on you. Boobs, puppies, Latina housekeepers... Although my Latina had started threatening me about how “non-limpio” my casa was. I was so scared of her, I had started cleaning my house before she came to clean my house.

Standing in that mirror, the realization that I control nothing, and that everything can change in a second, smacked me in the face. You can be on your way to do laundry, look at your stereo for one second, and the next thing you know, your car is rocketing up a two-lane highway on the driver's side, before it finally starts flipping end over end into the woods. I will never forget the moments right before my car came to rest-- the fear of what was to come, how painfully it would end, and the knowing that I was going to die with my dirty underwear hanging from every bush on mile markers 112-114 on Highway 9.

I relived those moments night after night for a year, waking up in a sweat. The only thing that calmed me was a pint of Ben and Jerry's, so not only was I a basketcase, I was a basketcase with an ass that was spreading around the fronts of my legs, making me look like I was in parentheses. Now, here was that feeling again. Except (I) couldn't eat ice cream, because (I) was facing the dreadful derrière display deadline of a fitness show.

I got up the next morning, put on my workout clothes and went to the gym. It was a particularly tough workout that I had pushed off until the end of the week. Plyometrics-- the workout that made me look like a Make a Wish candidate that had gone rogue and abandoned my museum buddy to terrorize the gym. I didn't want to go, but I was honoring my commitment to myself, and my word to others. It struck me at ten almost-vomits in that I felt better, not only physically more alive, but mentally as well. Out there is crazy, and full of lumps, dirty underwear in trees and murderous housekeepers. In here, is me. And that's it. Me taking time for myself, me challenging myself to go further, me discovering new strength I didn't know I had.

In 2005, my Uncle Wayne died suddenly. He was a hero to my brother, sister and me. I went to his house in Florida to help, and to watch my family fight over his loveseat. The next morning, I walked into his kitchen and his coffeepot, set to go off on a timer, was making his coffee. I learned one of the greatest lessons of my life standing there in his kitchen. Enjoy the now, because life could bestow you with lumps or yank you up and flip you five times, metal-crunching end over end, at any moment. The second greatest lesson I learned came after that car accident. I never wore underwear again.