Susan's Blog

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Fine Balance

The other day I had a pretty bad bike accident.  I was going really fast down a hill, on a street where I’ve ridden many times before.  There were no people around, no cars.  There was nothing to distract me, except my own thoughts.  I was thinking about colors.  I was feeling my power, and the glory of being alive.

I hit a curb and flipped to the right, landing on my right hand, shoulder, and knee.  My helmet and head were intact.  A kind woman living nearby helped me with hydrogen peroxide, water, bandaids, and a sit-down on her steps.  Ned picked me up in the car, and it was over.

Except that it wasn’t.  I became depressed for two days after that.  I still lived my life, functioned fine, but I was sad.  Even though I got right back on the bike the next day, it wasn’t fun.

It wasn’t fun because I was riding in the company of fear, and I was being very careful.  I was trying to prove to myself that I could still do it all, eyes only on the road, head cleared of all color.  I took another ride the next day, a brief one with my sister, her kids, and Benj, and it was slightly better, but I was still subdued and grayish.  But because Laura makes me laugh so much, I felt a lot better at the end of the day.

So, today I had enough time and I rode all the way back to where I’d fallen. The familiar tingling pain of pumping pedals up hills bloomed in my muscles.  Gradually I felt my body settle into my bike, with deep pleasure. I rode fast down the hill, just like the other day, and when I got there I spat on the ground.  While riding back home, I found myself singing and psyched, pushing the pedals very hard and fast.  I aimed for a low curb, and took it hard but in good control.  I swerved in and out, on purpose, delighting in the return of my mastery.

I thought about how it is with this kind of high joy, that there has to be a kind of recklessness, a forgetting, in order to fly like that.  Suddenly I thought about Nat, and my fears of going out in public with him, of being hurt by him, and lately, of him getting hurt — on a bike or anywhere else.  The more he moves outward into the world, the more fear I feel, right there next to my pride, my celebration, my elation.

I found myself wishing I could experience that crazy wild fun joy with Nat — with my boys; what would that be like?  Will I ever get to a point of utter blissful forgetfulness going out somewhere with Nat?  I think so.  It has already happened in tiny bursts, on bikes, in the waves, in my dreams.  It’s gotta start somewhere.  But, also, it occurs to me now that it may not be possible to, because they are my children, and I will never be reckless with them.  I have to settle for the watchful kind of happiness, always in the company of the fear phantom, because balancing motherhappiness is just not the same as balancing on a bike.

6 comments

Nicely said, especially the last line, which is so very true.

I’m glad you were able to recover your bliss on your bike so quickly. :-)

— added by KWombles on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 3:41 pm

This is what this made me think of. You know my oldest, Eric is a grown man and lives away from home. Well when he visited early this summer….although he is such an amazing upbeat presence, I realized there was actually a little relief when he left, because it felt like one less person to worry about. I don’t spend alot of time worrying about him in NY, I guess because i don’t know what hes doing every minute of the day. But when he’s here back under our roof, borrowing the car to go out with his friends at night and stuff…I worry about him like he was 17 years old again:( To me that is the worst part of being a parent…the worry that never goes away, at least for me it doesnt seem to!

— added by eileen on Friday, August 6, 2010 at 9:09 am

You SPIT? On the ground? Like to express contempt for whatever made you fall? I guess you were making a point and it was probably safer than peeing.

— added by Palmer on Friday, August 6, 2010 at 9:36 am

Yes, spitting expresses contempt; peeing just expresses.

— added by Susan Senator on Friday, August 6, 2010 at 11:02 am

I don’t think I’ll ever let go completely even while having that “crazy fun”, but I guess that’s one thing I’m okay with (thanks, that’s one more than I had this morning!). I’m wondering, maybe as their moms, we’re not supposed to. I know my mom still worries about me, and I’m in my forties… I do think we all experience brief moments of this however, and I’m grateful for what I get!

— added by kim mccafferty on Friday, August 6, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Susan this is so beautiful!

— added by Blanca on Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 2:39 pm