First, a moment for William (Bill) Goggins, the former editor-in-chief of my most favorite technology magazine, Wired. He died on Sunday at the San Francisco Marathon, his first. He was 43 and, according to friends who saw him at Mile 21, running strong.
Thursday, July 27
The front tire slips into the groove of the tram track like a slender foot into her perfect, ruby red slipper. I am so near the apartment that I am no longer on my bike anyway: I am walking in the front door, I am dumping my bag on the kitchen table, and I am showering the lake from my skin. That’s the error. I should be on my bike. Present.
But it’s that moment’s distraction that betrays me, and the bike quickly takes advantage of the moment to lock in and hold. I am here now, but my thoughts—in those moments before I am sliding across the pavement leaving blood and flesh behind—are racing ahead.
Wow, I think, this is going to hurt.
In this split second, I also remember my last road accident. I was on the back of Ray’s motorcycle. It was a perfect summer day, and we had taken the bike out to a construction project that he was working on. (He was a real macho guy and could swagger with the boys. Of course, he also loved to dress in women’s clothes and looked quite fetching in a pair of pumps.) We were returning along Rock Creek Parkway when a driver, a woman in a small car, races to turn in front of us. She realizes she has cut too close, hesitates, and then guns her car away. Ray loved his motorcycle, and I had been out with him enough to really trust him. I knew he would see us through. I clung tight to him, curled around his body while he skillfully put us down on the pavement.
I used the gel of my Aloe Vera plant on the wound I suffered from that accident. I think about it as I crash now.
Cars are braking behind me. The owner of the nearby pizza shop is quickly in the street at my side. But he’s offering assistance in German, and I am a bit too muddled to say more than I am okay. We gather up my wayward bag and shoe, pull my indifferent bike to the side of the road, and checkout the wounds. I am bleeding, but not broken. I don’t have to look up to know that the tables crowding the pizza shop are packed with people who are curiously looking on. It’s the nature of accidents: we are drawn like flies.
I gently brush away the pebbles and the concerns of the shop owner. Thank you, I say. But I live nearby. My German is bad, I apologize.
I pour the last drops of my water bottle over my leg, sigh, climb back onto my bike, and go.
I don’t want to leave you with this. Death, accidents, and wounds. I had a glorious day. Heiliger See with Niels and David. The three of us perfectly naked on our lakeside blanket. Bright sunshine. A slow, steady swim across the lake. The pier with Niels. And being on my bike. Flying.