Friday, September 2, 2011

Twisted Nerve

I've been sidelined for the last day and a half. Evans thinks I pinched my sciatic nerve, and given the debilitating pain shooting from my back to the tip of my right foot, I tend to agree.

It's been good and bad, though. The bad is obviously a lack of mobility and having to sit in precisely the right position that I don't cry from the agony that comes with moving around. The good is that it's given me time to work on a few things, chief among them the upcoming trip across the country. I've picked my last team member: Rachel.

You remember her, right? She's an old friend of mine, one of the people we helped escape from their home in Kansas. You might wonder what she brings to the table as far as skills go for what is sure to be an arduous journey.

Well, she's not an expert in marital arts, has no dead-eye marksmanship skills, and knows no more field medicine than the average person.That's not to say that Rachel doesn't have the requisite skills to survive. Clearly she does or she wouldn't be here now. Rachel is tough, smart, and resourceful.

No, the reason she's coming is simple: she asked. Though I told her we'd be gone a long time and we probably couldn't bring her husband (who was supportive of her choice if unhappy about it) she still wanted to come. Rachel has a strong desire to see the world around us, and a part of that is she, like me, has the heart of a storyteller. I've focused my efforts on sharing the goings on in my own life, and the community I live in. She wants to gather the stories of everyone we meet.

Plus, she's got an almost perfect memory and an encyclopedic knowledge of tons of different subjects. That's not a physical skill, but it does offer potentially huge levels of help to us on the road. She's as good an addition to the team as I could hope for.

Someone suggested to me that I take someone else, maybe a scout or one of the hunters. Someone with a lot of experience dealing with zombies in close quarters, someone physically stronger...basically, another male. I pointed out that Rachel has TONS of experience fighting zombies, and she's always done so with no regard for her gender. I guess no one told her women are supposed to be weak, right? She's fearless when defending herself and others. I want someone like that at my back.

I'm not trying to belabor the point, really. I'm just annoyed because as I've been stuck in the house working on our game plan, I've had to listen to people pelt me with their ideas and suggestions. The experience has made me realize just how many old prejudices and stereotypes have survived the fall of human society. "Women are weak" is the one stuck in my craw this morning.

Let me set it straight, then--my mother was a tiny woman with a gentle heart, yet I watched her mercilessly kill living people when the need arose. Rachel was the driving force in her community in Kansas, leading her people and keeping them safe. She fought tooth and nail for them, against terrible odds. She used her wonderful mind to work around a hundred problems, and she never shied from her duty. She did those things despite being less physically strong than the men around her. That's bravery.

With her, the roster is finished. I couldn't be happier about it. Given how the pain in my back is wearing my self-control down, the next person to politely suggest that this decision is wrong may get the unhappy, grumpy version of me that swears a lot...

Tentative date for our departure is Monday, contingent on my back getting better.

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