Body Map of My Life on a Bicycle

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(This was something I wrote super quickly in a workshop I took the other weekend, following the format of Bridget Booher, “Body Map of My Life.”) I didn’t mean for it to end up being all about bike things, but sometimes that’s how it goes, I guess. And then it ends up on your biking blog. ;)

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1

Location: Mid-shin, right side.

Cause: Slipping on sand and falling off a too-big, hand-me-down bicycle. The pedals, for traction, have sharp metallic points upon which I somehow stab myself as I fall.

Diagnosis: Punctured flesh. Admittedly, I am young, but I am alarmed by the whiteness I see around the wound and the blood dripping down my leg.

Treatment: My younger brother and I walk the five blocks home. Mom attempts to clean the wound, applies antibiotic ointment, a bandage, and probably a kiss to make everything better.

Follow-up: A piece of gravel or some such foreign material remains in my scar for many years until I dig it out one day with my fingernails. Scar fades over time.

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2

Location: Right ankle.

Cause: Too-quick turn while biking to a Religious Studies class. At the last minute, I remember the rent check I need to deposit with my landlady, and turn my handlebars faster than gravity and inertia allow.

Diagnosis: Badly sprained ankle.

Treatment: A neighbor sees me fall, comes over to help, and somehow makes me feel like it’s my fault I crashed because of the shoes I am wearing. I decline his offer of ice. It’s up a hill to get back home and down a hill to get to class, so I coast to school, lock up my bike and limp-hop to my seat about 20 minutes late. I proceed to sit through the next hour and ten minutes as my ankle becomes three times as big and much more purple than it should be. When class is over, two of my friends, horrified I sat through the whole lecture, drive me to the hospital.

Follow-up: Crutches for three months, followed by a walking boot (which I learn I can bike in, gingerly). It takes about a year before my brain lets me make turns quickly again.

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3

Location: Right elbow.

Cause: Projectile launching of myself over the handlebars, this time off a mountain bike that’s too small for me, again, with my brother.

Diagnosis: Punctures, rash, and gnarly abrasion filled with sand, dirt, and desert rock.

Treatment: Attempt to clean, but not too carefully because neither of us has much water left. Get back on my bike and mostly ignore it for the rest of the ride. When we get back to his house, wincingly try to scrape the sand, dirt, and desert rock out of a hardening scab. No bandages because it’s too sprawling of a wound, but leak blood all over the guest sheets my brother’s girlfriend gives me (oops).

Follow-up: Nothing. I maintain confidence in my non-existent mountain biking skills.

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4

Location: Right hip.

Cause: Another bike wreck on an icy day.

Diagnosis: Disgusting and painful bruise — upper thigh and butt turn motley colors of blue, black and yellow.

Treatment: Don’t lie on my right side for a while.

Follow-up: Odd phantom pains in my right hip and shoulder at random and sometimes inopportune times. Realization that injuries don’t heal as quickly or as well; semi-existential crisis about getting older. Maintain love of my bicycle.

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Ha! So there you go. Thus concludes writing workshop hour at CarFreeRambles;)

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