Susan's Blog

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Life will, uh, find a way

I had a bike accident a few days ago. I got “doored.” I had just completed a 19 mile ride, my usual summer route, when I decided to finish up riding on a road near my house, parallel to the park I usually ride in. I don’t know what made me change up the route, which took me next to a whole lane of parked cars; maybe just the desire to do something a tiny bit different from the park path.

The driver’s side door of the Mercedes swung out, just like that, and I yelled, “NO!” but there is no stopping the laws of physics. I felt myself moving through space, I heard the crack of my helmet, the slam into the hard road, and I remember thinking, “This is it.” I was going to break up into new pieces, rip away from this life and into some sort of new thing. I felt the deep-belly fear of what was coming, and a strange blankness of simply accepting it.

Then, a split second passed, I lay for a moment on my back, and I realized that nothing hurt. Could I–? Yes, I could: I stood up. No pain, just the small sting of scratches. Picked up my bike. My head felt a little heavy. I gathered my shoe, which had come off and was stuck inside the crankset, and my now-broken sunglasses, my helmet, and its scattered white brim. “Are you okay? I’m so sorry,” the driver said. I could tell he was. We were both shaken up.

Another guy came over and said, “It’s not your fault, you know,” and we both looked at him, not even knowing which of us he was talking to. But as a unit, we felt intruded upon, annoyed that he was interrupting what felt like our moment. I was actually resentful of the guy for turning this into something even uglier, about fault and laws and money. Especially since I was walking. And alive. My driver motioned to him to just can it. I agreed. We just needed to check in with each other.

Yes, I sound like he was the victim. Shouldn’t I have been angry? Shouldn’t I have demanded he give me his information so that I could bill him later?

But no, all I felt was this weird bond.

And, how could I have marshalled my senses that way, when I was just so shaken? I felt like I was only partially there. It was like I was floating around us, just going through some sort of post-accident motions, when all I wanted was to get out of there, get away from what had happened. I didn’t care to get his name, the promise of remuneration, his wellwishing. I didn’t want to stand there any longer than I had to to get my bearings and be done with the whole thing.

I actually rode the rest of the way home, which was only around the corner and up a small (but steep) hill. I was holding onto my broken glasses and helmet brim, with my helmet merely sitting on my head, unbuckled. As if I still owed myself the wearing of the helmet, but not really. Again, going through the motions, just to get home. To my husband Ned, to my home, to my bed.

It wasn’t until I got home and sunk down into my family, and my couch, that I started to cry and cry, just burying my face into my sweaty tee shirt collar and roar it out. I rested a lot that day — I actually slept most of the day, whether from doing 19 miles that day and 18.5 two days before that, or from the accident — and woke up feeling great.

I have a lot of bruises and stressed-out muscles but nothing else. Nothing but life and the open road ahead of me when I feel up to it. I am alive and nothing can stop me from living it on my terms.


Scarlett Begonias Rockhopper and me: together through thick and thin, ice and sun.


1 comment

Glad to hear both you and scarlet rockhopper came through intact. I bike too, I absolutely love it. I only occasionally ride on the streets because I am afraid of getting hit. Ive heard too many stories over the years of cyclists being killed. I try to stick to the trails.

— added by Karen fessel on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 10:21 am

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