“Oh, that’s my Emmy,” I said, blushing for having been caught with such a garish ornament on my desk.
“You won an Emmy?”
“Yeah,” I said, “for Legacy Letters. Some work I did with Twin Cities Public Television a few years ago.”
I knew he didn’t know what Legacy Letters were. I didn’t attempt to explain the project, though the 42 short films my last nonprofit co-produced were probably the highlight of my so-called communications career. I could feel the chance to live up to my own past slipping through my fingers.
“I’m not trying to show off,” I heard myself say, kicking myself even as the words came out. “Actually, I’m using it to stretch my hand. It’s perfect, see” — and I showed him how I grab the golden woman by her skirt and ankles in my right hand, turning my hand palm up, my surgery scar exposed under the fluorescent office light. “The base of the statue helps me open my hand further.”
“Ah,” he said, but I could tell I’d lost him, lost the chance to use this prop to my advantage, to say, Why, yes! I won this Emmy for my strategic communications in my last job. Doesn’t it make you want to ask more of me, make me more integral to the firm, invite me to those planning meetings I see on your calendar? But my tendency toward humility had done its work; by then my object of glory was nothing more than a paperweight again, an exercise tool, a mere shiny toy.
I detest the whiff of pride in anyone, most of all in myself, and being caught with a golden statue on my desk felt rather appalling. Yet it got me thinking. Turning my [Upper Midwest, Public Service] Emmy into an exercise tool had been accidental, but like so many accidents, eerily fitting.
My hand therapist had suggested I do this exercise with a hammer, which is what I use at home. The goal is to be able to hold a small pool of water in my hand, elbow at my side, palm up. I don’t bother with the water. I can see quite clearly that any liquid I might try to hold in my right hand would pour right onto the floor.
Holding this emblem of a past project I loved in the hand I broke this winter feels right, somehow. I take hold of the golden woman poised to soar, grasp her tightly around the midriff, make her work for me; I use her heft to try and glean a few more degrees of mobility before my wrist settles for good into this state of limited movement.
Maybe she and I are more alike than I know, both of us frozen in place, poised for future glory of as-yet undetermined nature, caught for the time being in today’s trappings, feet anchored in a heavy base. Arms outstretched to seize the world, if we could only get off the ground.