I was interested in facial expressions long before the accident. One of the things I loved about movies in contrast to theatre was how close I could get to someone’s face, to read their true thoughts and feelings. Those fleeting micro expressions or “tells” that betray whether a character is being true or deceptive, or whether the actor is good or bad.
But it wasn’t until I was sixteen that I got to see the truth behind our faces in a medical setting that few people are ever lucky or unlucky enough to observe.
My mom was on an escalator when she discovered she had epilepsy. The head trauma from her fall down the escalator coupled with the repeated smacking of her head against the metal ridges sent her to USC’s prestigious neurology teaching hospital where she remained for a few weeks, slipping in and out of consciousness and working through temporary retrograde amnesia.
The day it happened my mother had been visiting L.A.’s central library downtown. It was early evening when I received a call from a police officer at the hospital trying to locate a friend or relative. I reached my mother with only the officer’s brief recap of the incident, having no real idea what to expect.