It was ten years into my life when I had my first obsession. I triumphed in the grand prize drawing at a crowded neighborhood pool party. It was the first thing I ever won from chance. And I was good. I could ride up and down steep hills without using my handle bars. Make sharp turns onto cross streets at high speeds and lift myself off the ground. I was always ready for that comfortable sun heated pavement after every fail. I didn’t care. It was my passion, I loved it. I would stand up on the pedals with my arms stretched out to embrace resistance. Any other sounds that dared to intrude were embraced by deaf ears in the wind.
It all started with a dream about the house down the street, on the right-hand side of the road. I lived in a cul-de-sac at the top of a hill and this house was at the bottom. There wasn’t anything special about the dream. I don’t even recall what it was about, but I had to see the house. I was drawn to it. If anything, just to compare with what I saw in my dream. Like many times before, I walked my bike out of mother’s garage onto the driveway, hoped on, and started pedaling as fast as I could. Which didn’t take much to reach a top speed, gravity did the rest. I popped up onto the sidewalk as I got closer. The house is in view and my eyes locked. Time stood still, as if death caught me dazing. I realize that I’m not looking at where I’m going. I turn my head forward as I crash full-speed into a post mount mailbox.
In that quick intense moment, I felt like a mannequin free-falling out of a moving truck. All of a sudden, my skin jerked like the release of a slingshot. The loose clothes pulled my body forward as parachute on land. After that soft moment, I fell sideways into the street. I was twisted into my bike like a pretzel, pinned to the ground. Then, my chin caught fire. The skin on my chest opened up to enjoy the cool breeze outside. I screamed in pain. I didn’t want to feel this; I just wanted to release it. My chin was busted open. The flesh hung out into the open like a waterfall. There was a short gash in my chest but it was deep. Shocked and helpless, I drowned my agony with rampant moans. A gentleman, whose face and name I don’t recall, untangled me from my bicycle and walked me up the hill back to my house. What I do remember are those damn paper towels. They scratched at my dripping flesh like sandpaper. Lucky for me, the overflowing blood acted as protection and gave me a little bit of comfort.
The faceless Samaritan returned me to my mother and I ended up with eight stitches in my chin and a band aid on my chest. I went back to visit that mailbox a few times. I would sometimes think back and wonder, “What if I didn’t turn my head?” My chin caught one of the bottom corners. It was bent in by about half an inch. Had I not turned my head, it would have killed me. My throat could have been sliced open instead of my chin. This experience changed me in ways that I am still learning about. I notice that I am much more careful, with everything. It’s almost a curse to be so thorough. It wasn’t the bike. I rode that thing into the ground, even after my accident. It was my curiosity that got the best of me. The accident put a transparent muzzle on my creativity. It’s certainly there, but due to the dangers of the outside world, it needs to be protected and contained.