So back in the day I was married to a commercial fisherman. We were together for 8 years, and going on divorced for 4. Andy has a key to my house, I let him borrow my truck when he’s in town but I’m out of town, and we work so that he can see Kiska as much as he can when he’s here. I make sure he’s invited to our family events when he’s in town, and include holiday 6-pack delivers along with all my other friends. I will always love that man, just, umm, over there (gestures an arms distance away).

When we were married I was looking at a house for us. But my needs and wants were very different than they are now. Back then, I was thinking of things like boat storage, area to set pots or mend nets, and parking for multiple vehicles. I also was strictly looking for a ranch style house with a garage. The reason for a ranch, is that fishermen have a tendency to hurt themselves: falling off ladders, squishing things, pulling and spraining things, and of course all the cuts and bruises. But also sometimes more serious things, like falling into holds and breaking backs and legs. So I wanted a house that was wheelchair friendly, should that medical bill ever arrive. But when looking for a place for just me and my furrens, I wasn’t thinking about wheelchairs and daily life of the wounded and crippled.

I fully acknowledge that Ember the cat is actually going to be the reason we all die. Bless her heart, she has full confidence that no one will step on her tiny little self, so she doesn’t move. Like at all. She loves to sit at the top of the stairs or at the bottom, and she curls up and just snoozes away. She’s not deaf, she’s not blind, or impaired in any way. She is a fully functioning cat. She just really believes that she doesn’t need to be concerned about people walking up and down the stairs. Now, I’m not making fun of anyone here, but for some reason multiple of my housemates have slipped down the stairs, though I can’t say that alcohol was never a factor. I know for a fact Ember was the cause of one slide and thud, followed by her drunken laughing and the exclamation (in a slight Virginia accent) “mooooove cat!” No harm now fowl. Though I think some orange fur was left on the stairs from that one.

So there I am the Friday before Memorial Day, finishing up the last of my cleaning for my friend to watch the house and kitty, because Andy had Kiska and my truck. My washer and dryer are downstairs with the bedrooms and bathroom. You come into my condo at the landing, and upstairs is the kitchen, dining area, and living room. The sun was out, so Kiska was out in the front yard chillin in the grass. I was folding a fitted sheet from the dryer, walked up the stairs to the landing, checked on Kiska, then laughed to myself while thinking of that meme that “if she can fold a fitted sheet, she’s a witch” and walked down the stairs then BOOM! Down I go. I overhear myself say some words not fit for print, and hear my ankle and foot make some less than awesome noises, and tumble over and the tile floor catches me at the bottom.

I laid there, home alone, and laughed while trying not to cry while whimpering ‘help, help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up’. Because of course my first reaction to possible legit injury is self-mockery. For all the grief I give Ember about being the mastermind of our ruin, here I fell down the stairs and she wasn’t even around to blame! I held my left foot up, and slowly turned my ankle side to side to check for pain. Phew, not too bad, but also not awesome.

I watched my Nerdy Neighbor walk by outside, and had a moment of curiosity, I wonder how long I would lay here until someone found me? My two housemates were out of town, so it was just me and furry ones.

I laid there for a bit in my own self misery, thinking that if I was a witch I should really get on not falling down stairs, but for the first time in three years I guess it’s not that bad. I picked myself up, and limped up my stairs and brought Kiska in. Thank goodness Andy was coming to meet me and take me to the airport in an hour. So to anticipate any swelling I put on my Chacos and finished up my chores then Andy and I headed to the airport.

When I got back from SEA, and after a lot of icing and limping about, I realized that here I had always thought about what would happen if Andy hurt himself – but I never thought about what if I hurt MYSELF. Fast forward a few weeks and I have a sprained foot and I’m still limping around. I think about how much nicer it would be to have a house without stairs.

Courtney Wendel has lived in Juneau since she was a year old. She has a twin brother and an older brother, and learned to enjoy the outdoors at a young age by following the boys into mischief. Graduating from JDHS in 2006, she attended UAS to receive her Literature of the Environment, BA English degree. When not at work she spends most of her time on the diverse trail system hiking, running, or camping with her spotted pooch and adventure buddies.