Dancing in Egypt
Dancing on a Mountain
The pregnant woman shuffled over to pour her husband's coffee but missed the cup, accidentally pouring steaming liquid on her husband's hand. Three pink burns in the shape of coffee droplets immediately appeared on his right hand. On the third day his burns disappeared and his wife gave birth to a baby girl. The baby girl was born with three port wine stain birthmarks on her right hand, exact replicas of her fathers burns.
Thus began the strange life of the author.
Fate played a strong hand in her life. One night Nancy was driving off the Apache Indian reservation at San Carlos, where she taught mathematics, to buy some bananas. Her students would never see her again. Earlier that afternoon someone had struck and killed a huge cow but didn't report the accident, lest they pay a $500 fine for destroying the animal in open grazing territory. The cow was left to bake in the desert sun, stretched across the desolate highway. By nightfall, rigor mortis set in, hardening it into a wall. She didn't see it on the unlit road, her eyes temporarily blinded by oncoming truck headlights. Her car became airborne with the impact, then came crashing down on its nose, pieces scattered on the road. Her head hit the roof then violently whip lashed.
Doctors on the Indian reservation said she might not walk again and flew her to a neurological hospital in Phoenix. She couldn't remember years of her life. Her handwriting had changed. She had trouble sequencing (did the underwear go over or under the street clothes?). Trying to cook more than one thing at a time on a stove was overwhelming. She lost the ability to spell. She couldn't retain more than two or three sentences at a time, making recipe cooking a frustrating task. She could walk but had to carry a notepad around with her with directions. Without it she would get lost in familiar neighborhoods, even within familiar hospital buildings. She grieved. The worst part was how her brain was aware of the functions it had lost.
Deciding to move on, Nancy returned to the Boston area. She took a manual job, collating newspapers at night while doing physical therapy by day. One night she spotted an ad for a newspaper reporter in her hometown. She called up the editor the next day, asking for an interview.
“I'd really like a chance at this job. My brains are scrambled…I'm still recovering from a car accident” she said. Out came the story about the dead cow. “I know it will probably take me much longer than other reporters to write stories but I'll work really hard and am willing to take a pay cut because I'm trying to regain my writing skills. How about just hiring me for 30 days and if it doesn't work out, I'll go away quietly, no hard feelings…” she suggested.
Intrigued, the editor hired Nancy at regular pay. She worked as a reporter for the next several years with coaching from her editor. As her skills improved, she moved up, working on feature stories, essays and reviews.
Then in 1992 Fate dealt another wild card. Nancy began having repetitive dreams that took place in an unfamiliar, bombed out landscape. Men armed with machine guns roved around in some of her dreams. In other versions, she climbed a rickety staircase with strangers. Then a flyer appeared, advertising an upcoming trip to Egypt. Despite an earthquake in Cairo, social unrest and fundamentalists shooting at tourists, she decided to visit Egypt anyway, sensing adventure, mystery and excitement. She wasn't disappointed.
Sensing changes, Nancy's husband asked, “How was your trip?”
“Here, why don't you read my journal?”
“Wow! There's a lot going on here…why don't you write it up?” he said.
She spent the next several years writing “Suitcase Down The Nile: A Spunky Womans Transformational Journey Through Egypt.” The dead cow had hatched an author.