I fell off my bike.
Well, technically, I did an epic face plant, got up close and personal with the road, went to at least third base with some asphalt.
Let me set the scene; give you a little back story. I had been in Toronto for my niece’s surgery for a week. I was doing the morning radio show from there and spending the days with my family, pacing the confines of the tiny, antiseptic-scented hospital room. We weren’t getting any actual, restorative rest. We were full of angst and stress, fueling ourselves on caffeine, cafeteria food and inappropriate jokes. This delightful pattern continued for 6 days before I took my leave and headed home. It’s always tough to leave the hospital. I hate being there as much as I hate being away from there. It’s a classic Catch 22.
On the seemingly endless drive home, as I approached the city limits, my brakes decided to go on vacation. My dashboard was aglow with apocalyptic warning lights and ‘abort mission’ sirens. A trip to the mechanic was clearly necessary. I threw my bike in my hatch back, drove to the shop, left my ailing Pontiac behind and took off toward home on two wheels instead of four, feeling quite proud of myself for being so self-sufficient and responsible.
About 2 kilometres from my house, as my exhausted mind was distracted by the long list of tasks I had yet to accomplish, I made a rookie mistake. I attempted to cross a train track on anything but a 90 degree angle. Idiot move. My front wheel slid nicely into the track resulting in my bike spinning one way and my body cascading another. It all happened so fast, I didn’t even have time to react. Gravity; it’s a bugger. My helmet hit first, then my face, then the rest of me. I can only assume I looked as graceful as a gawky, gangly prepubescent in their first mosh pit. Just arms and legs and sweat and dirt and shock and instant regret.
I lay motionless for a second, trying to catch up to the event that had just transpired and doing a quick body scan to assess the level of injury. Some kind folks ran over to be of assistance. One man stopped his truck and said “Hey, you doing ok? That looked badddd!” Astute observation kind sir!
Shaking, I stood up, feeling grateful that nothing was broken, which is when I spit the dirt out of my mouth and realized…I was wrong. Something was in fact broken. My teeth. Two ladies were out for a stroll together had stopped so I turned to them and asked, “did I break my tooth?” To which the lovely blonde replied “ummm, hmmm, well honey, you broke two”. Oh good. She tried to make me feel better by pointing at her own tooth and saying “25 years! See this, it isn’t even mine!” People are nice. I’m grateful to you nameless strangers who stopped to help me. If I’d had my druthers at the time I would’ve been more effusive with my thanks, but I was discombobulated and sporting a new lisp that made saying the words “thanks” extra difficult and spitty.
Since that fine morning, I’ve had my two teeth bonded and repaired so I look slightly more normal, (no comment from the peanut gallery)! To the untrained eye, I don’t think it’s entirely obvious. But I hate the feeling of it. I didn’t know I was actually this vain! I think it has something to do with having worn braces and a GD retainer for most of my formative teenage years. (Who’s kidding who, I still sport that puppy, along with some zit cream, when life calls for it). As a general rule, I like to do as the adage says and ‘put my best face forward’. I didn’t realize how humbling it would be to put that face forward…with a couple of new holes in it!
It could’ve been a lot worse. I’m thankful for my scuffed up helmet that took the brunt of the impact. WEAR YOUR HELMET PEOPLE! It saved me from a concussion and a broken nose. I’m grateful to Dr. Lee and his team for fixing my mug. For a while there I looked like I could’ve been a stand-in for Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber. I’m grateful to my people for coming to my aid and for being my roadside assistance. I’m grateful to Bio Oil for working its magic on these scars. I’m grateful for smoothies and ice cream, but I’m angry at corn on the cob and hamburgers, ‘cuz they’re so delicious and they require so much toothy dexterity!
The Red Divil held up well under the impact. She’ll need a little cosmetic surgery herself, but let’s be honest, she’s made of 44-year-old steel. She’s a French Peugeot with attitude and she’s been around the block a few times. She can take a punch or two. I have to admit, I’m kind of scared of her right now. She’s in the corner, on a bit of a time out. It’s not her fault, she just got mixed up with the wrong crowd, but she still needs to think about her actions and we need to do better next time. It’s ok, it’s just a break, not a break up.
There was a moment when I stood up and assessed the damage that I thought to myself, “Really? I managed to cycle all the way around Ireland and didn’t fall off my bike, but 2 kilometres from my house and I break my face? Man, this would’ve been a good scene in the movie!” Murphy’s Law indeed!
My life has been pretty hectic and stressful of late and balance has been elusive. I think this might have been the universe’s way of making me slow down. It had to hit me in the face with a road to get me to listen.
I remember that happening after my dad died. It was about 4 months after he’d passed away and I was working too much and too hard and I was trying to be everything to everyone, just dancing as fast as I could. I was sitting at a traffic light, lamenting the fact that I really had to pee, but didn’t have time before I had my next appointment, when I was slammed from behind by a minivan going about 60 km/hr. Like a slingshot, my car was propelled forward into the trunk of the vehicle in front of me. I had some broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, a sore neck and forehead and a busted up car. Oh and now I really had to pee. Three weeks later I picked up my reconstructed automobile, had just come from physio, and was sitting at a traffic light when someone drove into the back of my car. Again. I sat there, with silent tears streaming down my cheeks and thought, “Ok, I get it. If I don’t slow down you’re going to keep hitting me with large metal objects. Message received.” I learned two important life lessons that day; first, the universe sometimes has to get really loud to be heard and second, always take the time to empty your bladder.
I’m going to try and listen. I’m going to try and slow down. That doesn’t mean being lazy or cancelling everything in my entire schedule. It does mean saying no to some things, to some people. It means spending a little more time doing things that fill my cup, conserving energy stores, cocooning a little bit. It’s not selfish to be self-preserving. If I say no for a while, it’s not because I don’t like you, it’s because I really like my teeth and I’d really like to keep them inside my face hole. It’s not you, it’s me. It’s just a break, not a break up.