I went down hard. Going thirty or thirty-five miles an hour in the city of Portland. I got caught on a trolley line. Little Wing’s front wheel got caught in the indent that runs in the road, I felt it catch. I attempted to get out by steering quick, but the rain and trolley line disagreed with my decision. All combined, the tire, the line, and the wet, we skidded out. Down Little Wing went, and I went down as well. Luckily enough I detached from the bike. My body continued pointing West (the direction we had been going). My legs pointed towards the bike, my eyes were also pointed that way. As I slid on my left side I watched the bike skid. Little Wing went down on his left side as well. He went down in such a way that his tires pointed at my toes and the seat was pointed West. Meaning, the bike went atleast 180° after I let go. I watched it skid towards opposing traffic. Besides the rain the image I remember most clearly were the sparks. The thought “I’m ok, but I don’t have a bike anymore,” skidded along side me.
I got off the black top and I swore. My legs hadn’t touched the pavement, neither did my head, but my left arm took the brunt of the fall. When I stood I felt a pain in my left elbow. I checked for range of motion and it was fine. I would find out later that my jacket made of kevlar and mesh had saved my elbow from everything but a purplish bruising.
They guy who could have ran into my bike — or more accurately, the car my bike nearly skidded into — had stopped. The Driver, a young man around thirty, asked if I was ok. I responded in a rude manner that tends to rear its ugly head when I get scared, “I sure fuckin’ hope so.”
I was an ass.
The man got out of the car as I walked over to right Little Wing. The driver appeared in my helmet-modified field of vision, and as he did so a college aged man appeared from the other side. “Are you okay? Can I do anything to help?” The College Boy asked.
The Driver asked the same question. I looked down at Little Wing, my strength all gone. I did something that I don’t often do. I told them that if they wanted to pick up the motorcycle that would be awesome. They did. As the rain fell, hitting hard against my helmet, and making streams of oily water flow on the incline I had recently skidded down, the two men brought my bike to the narrow shoulder. They asked again if I was alright. I said yes, and thank you, but I didn’t say it enough. My frustrations left me sounding a little ungrateful and for that I am now sad. Those men were so kind when I needed kindness, when I was at my worst, and I didn’t say thank you enough.
Little Wing started up after a little coaxing. My left mirror was twisted a bit, but everything else was seemingly fine (I would later find out that my left footpeg was also busted). I escaped with a sore spot on my elbow and a working motorcycle; I am fortunate.
I am alive. I have all my limbs. I am alive.
Enlightening discourse, bits of knowledge one can collect from other intelligent humans. My dad used to call these bits ‘pearls of wisdom.’ Often times his gifts to us were made up of, or padded with, these pearls.
The pearls were beautiful and shone with knowledge. They had a colorful sheen that was colored even more by the words Dad chose to wrap them in. They told of his life, the people in his life, and the many challenges and grace that had been tossed at him all throughout the whole thing. The glow of these pearls was something almost imperceptible to my naive sister and I. We saw it as just another talk. Just another thing Dad was saying *yawwnn* to hear himself speak. Dad called ’em pearls.
My host in Portland is father to one girl. He told me that raising a kid was difficult, because often times they don’t appear to listen. He figured that as long as he said the words though they would be there. The words would be in her head. When she needs them now she can draw on them.
As I make my way through life I often times am reminded of words Dad said to me. Pearls make their way forward and glisten within my line off vision when I need them most. All those *yawwwnn* moments seem to be paying off.
My thoughts as I slid across the pavement and watched the sparks fly were mainly curse words. However there were other words floating through my head. Pearls of wisdom from many voices popping up. I had trouble grasping all but one, but they were there.
Over the last week I have met some interesting individuals. I had the pleasure of being hosted by a man who was in the midst of a family reunion. He was ever-so-kind in offering me a bed. I was one among four other guests and the only female of the bunch as well as the only stranger. Six of us slept there that night, five men and myself. Discussions were fun and the food delicious. My host was a born story teller and his two brothers, dad, and nephew seemed to know it. It was a fun thing to sit among these guys as they chatted and caught up. That evening we sat together and the next morning we parted ways — I went North to Bellingham and they head South towards Seattle.
In Bellingham I took in the farmers market. I tasted the best grapes I ever tasted. Bought some amazing tea made by a lovely young woman. I bought bread for dinner as well as some nuts. I met some lovely people and got to watch angry proselytizers preach hate in the name of God. It was an experience, and as the market closed up I made my way back to Little Wing with my armful of goodies. I had parked beside a Goldwing with an Arizona license plate. As I made my way to my trusty steed I saw a man standing over the Goldwing. “Is that your bike?” the man asked.
“Yes, it is. Is that yours?” I pointed at the Goldwing with my one free hand.
“Yes it is.” He went on to tell me about how he had obtained the bike (a gift from another rider), and why maybe I should consider getting a Goldwing. We chatted for a bit and he invited me for a ride.
The last time I rode as a passenger on an on road motorcycle I was two or three. One of my earliest memories, I remember my uncle holding onto me as I sat leaning against his belly. On the Goldwing I sat on the back. Kai, the owner of the vehicle, and I chatted.
It turns out he was a Yogi. He was quite wise and had been living off a motorcycle for decades. We had much to discuss. He offered me a place to sleep that evening and I took it.
It is funny the people one meets. It is funny that I met a Yogi who spoke of humans being perfect the way they are after my discussion with the nephew of my host that morning.
The morning before the market was met by tea, served to me as soon as I was awake and dressed, and a breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast. A hearty breakfast to welcome the day. Other than the nephew all the men had atleast a decade on me. The nephew was only a few years older than myself, and a rather attractive boy. He was in the Marine Corps and had a definite military bearing. He was shy while also being opinionated, which made for interesting discussion.
As the rest of the guys dispersed towards the great outdoors the nephew stayed and started up conversation. He started with a question, asking if it was wrong of him to think that boys in skinny jeans were douchebag.
I mentioned earlier that one of the things I got to experience at the farmer’s market were angry proselytizers. They were a couple of men preaching hate and holding bright neon signs. They were saying things like “God hates gays,” and “God hates atheists.” They also had in tow a little boy, about five years old, who was speaking to strangers about repenting. Humans preaching hate, a thing so common in this world, but something that usually seems so obviously wrong to an observer.
I have heard negative words placed against boys wearing skinny jeans before. I have heard the same disgust for boys wearing cowboy hats or girls with died hair. I hear words like jugalo and hipster tossed around with contempt, much like the words homosexual and atheist. Labels that people assign and then apply some level of judgement to. Words that are just words, but that are used to justify hate.
“Yes, that is wrong,” I told the nephew. “Apparel, regardless of your thoughts on it, does not make anyone a douchebag. Appearance does not define people.” This discussion turned from a mere funny anecdote from the young nephew into a Diamond-rant about being kind to others.
Boys wearing skinny jeans don’t deserve a label any more than a Marine. A chick on a motorcycle doesn’t deserve a label anymore than a chick with an old rusty truck living in Minnesota. Humans are all different, we are all in a state of constant change. To label someone who might seem different than yourself is wrong because we are all different, and since we are all different we are also all the same. We are all snowflakes. Each snowflake is different, there aren’t any two that are the same. Unique, beautiful, and perfect the way they are. They are all special, and therefore none of them are special. They are all just snowflakes. Humans are all just human.
This rant was delivered a little more stuttered than the way I just laid it out, but there it is. My revised speech, my pearl of wisdom. My second day in Bellingham I attended my first church service. Before that Sunday the only church services I had attended had been weddings and funerals. The service was pretty though. The speaker did not spew hate in the name of God, he spoke love. He said we were love and God was love, and we were all apart of God because we were all in a state of being love. He spoke of accepting and loving others. He spoke my language.
Pearl of wisdom no. 1) Treat others how you would have them treat you. Would you have people judge you by your appearance? Or maybe by the beliefs you hold? Would you have others preach at you? Call you a douchebag?
Pearl of wisdom no. 2) Listen with an open mind. Yogi Kai was full of intriguing wisdom, I’m glad I had the chance to speak with him. The church service was fascinating and because I listened I was pleased. The Marine nephew was intriguing despite the fact that I disagreed. Speaking to him taught me something about my own viewpoints.
Pearl of wisdom no. 3) When you go down get up faster than you fell. Resilience.
Dad said many wise things. I have considered all three of these pearls over the last week, but the only one that skittered across the pavement with Little Wing and I was the resilience. In that moment in time I was pissed, I was not feeling love. I didn’t treat The Driver or The College Boy the way I wanted to be treated, but I did bounce off the road gripping that resilient pearl in my hand.
Sometimes we all forget the things we strive for, like love or being kind. None of us are perfect, but we are perfect in our imperfections. We all of us are snowflakes and not one of us gets through our life cycle without melting or breaking off a few crystalline limbs. We all suffer, we all breathe. We all fall into judgemental mode, and we all fall.
Pearl of wisdom no. 4) Don’t let the bastards get you down. To borrow a more graceful saying from Elenor Roosevelt, regardless of the hate, rain, or trolley lines “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” If you want to pick yourself up you will. Love is a super power by itself, and employing it doesn’t hurt. Learn from the falls. Be the love you wish to see in the world, and let the way you OVERCOME define you.
If there is one pearl of wisdom I can hand you, words I can put in your head for later, let them be “be love.”
I am fixing my footpegs tomorrow and I’m looking into some more crash worthy pants for riders. I’m avoiding trolley lines and loving my fellow vehicle passengers. I’m learning. A fall doesn’t have to be just a fall.