The sun pierced through the canopy of trees above, painting irregular polygons in less regular patterns across the asphalt. I had lived but a decade and received a Blue Angel banana-seat bike for Christmas only months prior. My thin legs and long feet pushed and pushed and pushed the pedals in turn, racing my running friends along the road back toward the cul-de-sac, back toward home.
I will probably never know what happened next. Somehow my bike stopped suddenly while my body lurched forward over the handlebars with the inertia pushing me airborne and flailing through the newly warming spring air.
My face collided with the pavement, leaving small chunks of rock and gravel imbedded in my skin.
As I rose to my feet, hesitantly, I surveyed what I couldn’t see but could only feel with fingers and tongue. The road claimed half of my front tooth as it’s own victory for the battle, leaving me with a busted lip and broken nose as my battle wounds.
My Blue Angel was relatively unharmed.
Panic ensued in what was a blur of faces and friends inquiring about my well-being.
“Karin, are you okay?”
I was bleeding not only from nose and lip but also from elbow, hand, and knee. Still, I half-ran, half-hobbled down past six or seven houses to my own door step. My mother met me there with a mixture of shock and amazement and welcomed me into the kitchen to press my face with cold paper towel compresses and whatever ice she could find. She was already phoning the dentist.
A same-day appointment was scheduled, and I made the first of many trips to fix my broken tooth. I wish the dentist could’ve mended my heart as easily as he cleaned the root with mixtures that smelled of bleach and the chewable calcium tablets my dad made us eat each day to ensure our bones were strong.
I wasn’t sure if my lip would ever be un-swollen. I knew my nose would never be the same. I preferred walking to the speed and wind-blowing-in-my-hair feelings of riding my bike. I stayed inside for many days. I grew tired of recounting my adventurous encounter with the road. I became a little more cautious.
More years later than I care to count, those feelings continue to set patterns for my practices. I am more careful than I would like to be at times–longing to let the wind blow in my hair and break free of the monotony of my everyday. But then, I am back on that bike, pounding the pavement, and flying over my bike all over again. I want to call to that girl and tell her that she will heal, that no one will notice the nose, or the tooth, or the scars years from now. I want to tell her that she will have what she needs and most of what she wants. I want to tell her to ride.
Ride into the wind.
We can always pick up the pieces later…