And on the way home yesterday, day four of being on the bike after the ankle break, it happened like this:
I was sitting, stopped for the red light. Riding the bike is easy. Stopping and starting are not. My ankle moves round and round and round and does not complain. What my ankle does not do is bend so that I can put my foot down on the ground, toe-first, and lean my weight on it. It does not like that very much at all.
So my stopping is awkward, at best. It’s a slow-slow-slow down and then put my right foot down and lean. And then slide forward off the seat, carefully, carefully, putting my left foot down flat when I’m low enough to the ground to do so.
Starting back up is the same way. Only in reverse, of course.
So the light changes. I do my reverse, slow-motion mount and begin to peddle through the intersection. I cross the intersection, and begin to speed up, just a little. I’m two, maybe three blocks from home. I’ve done some good writing at the coffee shop. It was raining earlier, but it isn’t now. I have lunch to make and a class to go to.
There is a parked truck on my right. I begin to pass it. The driver’s side door opens, hard and fast. There is enough time to say, “Jesus!” (this is what I say — I don’t know why) and then enough time to think (or maybe not think, maybe just act) “protect the ankle, the foot, the left side.”
And then the bike is down and I am down. And my ankle aches, but only a little. And my right arm hurts, but only a little. And I can tell there’s a gash on my arm, just below the elbow. Somehow, even though I have two layers of clothes on over it, I know the skin has been ripped.
A middle-aged black man leans over me and says the kind of things that people say in that moment. Something like: Are you okay? And: I didn’t see you. And: I looked in the rearview mirror. Or maybe: I didn’t look in the rearview mirror.
I can hear him, but I also can’t hear him. I am, at the same time, cursing the universe, which seems to have it out for me in a very serious way lately. And checking my body for disaster, beginning with the ankle. I am standing and saying something about being okay and I am walking, limping, but only slightly, out of the road and over to the side. I am thinking, “Stupid asshole for not looking before he got out,” and “fucking universe for dishing out all this shit back-to-back-to-back” and “I should have taken Fremont instead.” I am thinking of all the near misses I’ve had in the last few years — e. coli, Lyme disease, a broken ankle, a door-int0-bike event, and I am wondering if something in the world is out to get me. Or if something in the world is watching over me, considering I am still here and still alive and still, mostly intact. As I’m walking away, limping toward home, I choose the latter. And I offer thanks.
Last night, there was a ride from a new friend, a master class with an amazing writer, an unexpected and sweetest-ever bit of protective posturing from my friends/housemates, and a caramel pecan dessert that pleased the tongue almost as much as the serving of conversation that went with it.
This morning, there is a bruised wrist and a likely-to-be scarred forearm and some rather purple bruises on the inside of my right thigh. There is a bike that needs tending — a broken spoke and a rotated brake lever. Easy fixes, all. There is writing that needs finishing, stories and words that will come if I sit down and put my brain to their needs.
And then I am in the shower, and I am standing without pain on both feet and I am letting the water beat against the new cut on my arm. In that moment everything — me, the shower, the sky — everything, is crying for the beautiful, fragile thing that I am.
Busting your brain and my bones. Daily. s.