Day 1 – 8/28, 10pm, Vancouver BC
So today got…interesting. Everything was going so smoothly. All the things I was worried about – getting up at 3am and driving to Newark before dawn, getting the giant box from the parking lot and checked in, finding a big taxi in Vancouver to get me to the bike shop, getting my bike rebuilt – went without a hitch. Who would have thought a five-mile ride to the beach would be the most dangerous part of the day?
What happened is still a mystery to me. I haven’t had an accident in ages, and never one like this. I don’t know if my chain or pedal slipped, or it was the jet lag, or electromagnetic forces, or simply the gods sending me a message, but one minute all was good, and the next minute I was splayed out on the asphalt, some of my skin on the road and some of the road under my skin.
Yes, there was a second I considered turning back, but the sunset beckoned and I refused to be vanquished on the first day. I bike-hobbled the rest of the way to the beach, pulled my ride over my bloody elbow and hauled it down the steps (so many steps, far more than I remembered), then stripped off my clothes and cleaned my wounds in the salt water. Like Apollonia purifying herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka, though once again, that ain’t Lake Minnetonka. A bloody baptism seems a tad dramatic, but a ritualistic beginning nonetheless.
Before my loved ones get too worried (and they’re already not the biggest fans of this venture) let me reassure them all is fine. Some ugly road rash but nothing serious, now cleaned with iodine and antiseptic cream. And let me remind them sometimes good things begin with abject failure.
At my very first trumpet recital at age ten, I stood in front of the assembled throng (classmates, teachers, parents) and literally could not make a sound. I was supposed to play the House of the Rising Sun – nothing rose. Pathetic whispers of air through a cold piece of metal, titters turning to open laughter until I sobbed my way off the stage. Trust me, this little crash didn’t hurt nearly as much as that. But I stuck to it regardless and the rest of this music thing has turned out pretty great. Getting the worst out of the way right at the beginning can be a good strategy.
Once I got out of the water and dried myself off, the sun was just dropping below the clouds, and I quietly played it to the horizon. Dialoging with some gulls over the ocean’s rhythmic wash, greeting some friends who cam by to listen and being blissfully ignored by some lovers out for romance, I was reminded why I am doing this. Despite the inevitable bumps on the road, this is going to be fun.