Last summer I got hit by a car while riding my bike outside the Colorado Convention Center. I was headed home from work when a car started to pull toward the curb – and into the bike lane. My left hand collided with the car’s passenger side view mirror. The mirror was smashed, my hand was cut, and I toppled over.
I watched bright red blood drip from my fingers onto the sidewalk. I had a white kitchen towel in my backpack, so I wrapped my hand in it. The driver asked if I was okay. I asked for her license and insurance. Strangers put my bike in their minivan and took me to the hospital.
The nurse in the ER frowned at me. She asked why I hadn’t washed my hand right away.
“Uh, I got hit by a car. And then I came here.”
She made me wash my hands thoroughly. I sucked air in through my teeth.
Once my hand was clean, another nurse came in and examined the wounds. No stitches necessary. He smiled. “Skin is the best band-aid,” he declared, delicately placing my flayed flesh in bandages.
After I was released, I went to the bar near my apartment and ordered a whiskey soda. I wiggled my mummy fingers at the bartender and showed off my ER admission bracelet. We laughed. Eventually the lacerations healed and left scars.
I later learned from the insurance company that the driver was an exhibitor. She was unfamiliar with the area. She didn’t see me.
The week after I got hit, the city installed a barrier between the car lane and the bike lane to protect cyclists.
I guess I just had bad timing.
Life must be a circle because I’m headed back to the Colorado Convention Center this weekend for ALA Midwinter. As a member of the 2018 Stonewall Book Award Committee for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, I’ll be sequestered all day Saturday to deliberate titles under consideration for the award. I expect it will be a less traumatizing experience than the last time I was there. I hope. The winners will be announced at the Youth Media Awards on Monday at 8am Mountain time. You can watch the livestream here.
(Unsolicited advice: if you are lucky enough to serve on a book award committee, get a PO box. Thank you, publishers. I’m sorry about all the books that never reached me because I moved three times.)
As I prepare to head back to Denver, I’m stuck thinking about the shape of things. About lines and intersections and parallels. About where I was and where I am.
I left Tacoma. I lived in Denver for a year. Then I moved back to Washington. Sometimes I call it a slingshot move. Or a boomerang. A bounce.
When I lived in Denver, I rode my bike and got hit by a car and got scars.
This weekend, I know I won’t be able to stop myself. I’ll circle back. I’ll check the sidewalk for my blood stains.
I’m going to a conference for librarians. But I’m not a librarian anymore.
I work at the same college where I was a librarian for four years. I have the same e-mail address, the same employee ID number. But everything else is different.
What is the shape of the universe?
Is it a circle, or a triangle, or a spiral?
My ex-husband e-mailed me out of the blue last week. He’s selling the house we bought together when we were married.
Part of his message said, “I’m sorry.”
When we were married, I got a job as a librarian in Puyallup. But we owned a house in Portland, two and a half hours away. So I got an apartment in Puyallup and I drove 392 miles every week to go home on the weekends. I spent a lot of time on Interstate 5. After a year of my weekly commutes, I got a tenure-track job. We got divorced.
Now I live in Seattle and I work in Tacoma, at the same college that hired me six years ago.
I spend a lot of time on I-5.
But now it’s different. I come home every night to my husband. We eat dinner together. He makes pasta sauce from scratch and listens to jazz. After dinner, I read The Odyssey out loud while he drinks Coke floats with vanilla ice cream.
Sometimes when my husband holds me, he says, “I like your shape.”
It always makes me laugh. What is my shape, exactly?