My 4th of July Bike Accident

It was the 4th of July weekend in 1994. My boyfriend Richard and I had taken the ferry from San Francisco to Larkspur, then ridden our bikes up to my friend Annie’s place in Forest Knolls.

Annie and I had worked together at Baobab Safari company down on Post St. I’d only met her about six months before, when I moved to San Francisco from a summer spent in Yellowstone, after a few years in San Diego. At the time we met, Annie had just found out that her husband had been having an affair with her friend. She had three kids, all in their teens at the time. I’m pretty sure she was also going through her second (or third?) bout of cancer. That woman has nine lives, honestly. Anyhow, she’d invited us up for the weekend to BBQ, hang out with her and the kids, and be outside in beautiful Marin county. San Francisco was always foggy in the summer and as we’d moved from Southern California, we were happy for the warm break.

After two relaxing days, we packed up our bikes to head home. Richard was a strong cyclist. He was a bike messenger at the time and always in better shape than me. I could carry my own, though, and I loved being out on those windy roads. About twenty minutes out from Annie’s house, Richard was quite a bit ahead of me. I lost sight of him at the curve, before the Loma Alta preserve, so I started going faster. It was a gorgeous day and I felt carefree and happy, pedaling like a child racing to catch up with friends. As I turned the bend, hoping to see him ahead of me, I caught the edge of the pavement and ended up off the shoulder, out of control.

The next thing I remember is staring up at the sky, watching the trees sway, the clouds pass, slowly, peacefully, and then the echo of someone saying, “Are you ok? Can you hear me?” Apparently, I’d ridden right into the side of the hill, and was thrown from my bike. My entire right side was scraped up and my helmet had a solid two inch crack in it. The man who was helping me had a cooler in his car (it was the 4th of July, after all,) and an enormous brick car phone. He was just getting on the phone when a volunteer fire engine came upon us. All of this memory is hazy – I vaguely remember the EMT talking to me and I thought he was the cutest thing. Then an ambulance came. And I remember trying to explain that I wasn’t alone but because I was, in fact, alone, they didn’t believe me.

Richard had apparently barreled down the hill (probably also enjoying the feeling of wind in his hair and not a care in the world,) and it took him a while before he realized I was no longer with him. By the time he rode back up the hill to find me, they were putting me in the ambulance. I believe he used that man’s car phone to call Annie and she came to get him and the bikes. I ended up at Marin General where I had a CT scan (and consequently spent the next year begging them to forgive my hospital bill because I was a college student with no insurance.) I was told how lucky I was that I’d been wearing a helmet. I don’t remember much until being rolled back into the room after the tests, then I really came to. Apparently, while in my post-traumatic haze, I had asked the EMT to marry me. He came by to check on me and make sure my offer still stood. It was embarrassing but also adorable.

After a night of being woken up every two hours (to be sure my minor concussion wasn’t more serious,) I woke up the next morning covered in hives. It turned out that I had fallen off my bike into a patch of poison oak. I ended up back at the ER, as I have a terrible allergy and I was a mess. First, they gave me a shot of Benadryl and then a shot of epinephrine. The poison oak symptoms started to subside soon after but my heart felt like it was stopping and starting. Turns out I have benign heart arrhythmias called PVC’s. I’d always suspected something was a little funky but it took a bike accident and some poison oak to figure it out. 

My virginity and a break-up

Over Christmas break in 1986, I was laying on my bedroom floor, listening to New Order’s “Shellshock,” and sobbing. Heaving melodramatic sobs. The kind that prompted my sister Jeanne to yell “Stop being so dramatic!” I felt my sobs were warranted as my boyfriend Daniel had just informed me that he was in love with someone else. I was bereft of all hope for future love in my life.

Dan had come into my life about a year earlier, at a Mount Saint Mary dance. I went to the one public high school in Nashua, NH but there were two private parochial high schools, Mount Saint Mary for girls and Bishop Guertin for boys. They held monthly dances and opened them to the public kids. When I was in middle school, my father made up a fight song for the Mount and marched around the house, swinging his arms and singing it at the top of his lungs. He desperately wanted me at an all-girls school. We could have never afforded a private education but looking back, I see that he wanted more for me than I had imagined. In the least, he believed that attending the Mount might have slowed my inevitable trajectory toward equating self-worth with how many boys wanted to kiss me.

I’d seen Dan once or twice before, at my friend Lisa’s house when her older brother threw parties. I recall her saying, “Don’t bother. He’s a senior and he’s got a girlfriend.” This information did not deter me. I fell in love with Dan before ever talking to him. He looked like a mix between Bono and Simon LeBon and Sting. Basically hot all over. At the time, I was finishing ninth grade, about to start high school, and a virgin. The tainted kind. I’d done ‘everything but’ on a dare with a neighborhood boy and couldn’t wait to have sex, preferably with Mr. Hot All Over. I wore tight cropped shirts and supremely short shorts and used Jolen creme bleach to be Debbie Harry blonde.

The night we finally connected, I’d smoked too much pot at the adjoining park earlier in the evening, so was spending the last minutes of the dance in the girls’ bathroom, still riding waves of paranoia. What was actually in that bag of shake we smoked? Maybe it was laced with something. I think the cops are going to find me and test my THC level. Wow, I could really use an ice cream sundae. Lisa came in to tell me that she and her brother were leaving, and did I need a ride? I’m not sure what bravery pushed me out of that stall but I power walked across the gym floor, fists moving a hip-to-nip fashion, eyes darting across the landscape of awkward teenagers. When I spotted Dan, his smile caught me off guard so I paused, mid-walk, and felt the clammy sweat I’d been holding in my hands. He walked toward me, while I stayed paralyzed, and asked me to dance. I unclenched and we held each other as closely as teenagers can while being hawk-eyed by chaperones through the last (and best) two minutes of “Stairway to Heaven.”

We spent that entire summer making out. Everywhere. Dan had a little gold Toyota Tercel and we would drive from my house to the church a block away, park in the lot, and rub against each other until the windows fogged and our skin burned. Eventually, though, Dan went off to college and we attempted a long-distance love affair. With no sex. I knew I had to up my game to compete with those girls in college. I believe I referred to them as skanks at the time. So, while he was home for a long weekend in October and his parents were away, we had a party and I lost my virginity. Up until it was over, I thought we were having the most romantic evening. Dan and I were laying on the old, brown plaid, scratchy couch in the Ayotte’s living room, watching MTV broadcast the Police’s Synchronicity concert. A box of Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler sat on the end table, along with a pack of cigarettes and a pack of Hubba Bubba. Our other friends had gone upstairs to explore empty bedrooms, so we had the place to ourselves. When it became clear we were going to have sex, ie the dry humping became too painful and was boring a hole in Dan’s pants, there was no conversation around protection against pregnancy or STDs because I assumed we were both virgins. Yet another painfully naive moment in my existence. Along with the actual sex, which hurt like hell but I convinced myself it was supposed to feel that way. The pleasure with the pain. Turns out Dan was enormously well-endowed, which I only know now that I’ve had a very fair share of partners. When it was over, I began removing a small leather strip I’d had tied around my wrist. It was a ‘virgin bracelet’ that a few of my girlfriends and I were wearing. When we popped our cherry, we were to remove the string ceremoniously and breathe a sigh of relief. But Dan wasn’t having it. He tied it back on my wrist and told me not to tell anyone, because he was 18 and I was 15. Damn those barbaric age of consent laws. He was, and I believe is still, one of the kindest hearted people I’d ever met.

We spent the next few months seeing each in his dorm room an hour away or when he was home for a weekend. And we were madly in love. I have old phone bills with hours of long distance minutes and letters saying I love you to prove it. I trusted him. He called me Pookie, for god’s sake. And held my hand in public. And told me he missed me. But apparently, he was also sharing these feel-goods, in person, with a girl at school named Wendy.

She was short and mousey, and had a pseudo-punk short haircut. I’d met her a few times when I visited and didn’t think much of her. She was just a girl at my boyfriend’s college and like I mentioned, I was naive. She seemed boring and I was… well, I wasn’t cool per se, but at least I wasn’t like everyone else. My new fashion sense was more like a cross between Molly Ringwald’s in Pretty in Pink and Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan. I began wearing my father’s old trench coat (or his Army reserves jacket when he wasn’t home to yell at me for taking it,) white t-shirts with the neck cut out, a mini-skirt of some sort, a set of black nylons that I had ever so carefully nicked a thousand times so they would run just so. And knock-off Doc Maarten boots. And black lipstick, of course. My friends, come to think of it, looked just like me, save for an occasional mohawk or bleached blond tail. We were so busy drowning our teenage sorrows with the likes of Morrissey that we didn’t care what anyone thought. That was the point, of course, not caring what anyone thinks. Don’t care, hard. But truth was, I cared desperately. I wanted to be Siouxsie from the Banshees, Suzanne from the Bangles, and Suzanne as in Vega. I wanted to be a hot chick rock star as a teenager, but I was too busy wondering how to keep a boyfriend to actually open my mouth, sing a few notes, and be heard.

The night of the breakup, my best friend Sheelu came over, picked me up off the bedroom floor, dragged me to Rockit Records, and smoked Marlboro Lights with me until we were nauseous. Sheelu was the skate-Betty, Ska-Indian version of me – ripped jeans, big t-shirts, leather and chain bracelets, and a mouth on her that would make my sailor Uncle take pause. Though I’d had my heartbroken and couldn’t see how I’d ever (EVER) love again, Sheelu told me every truth and lie I needed to hear in that moment. That we were young, that we had enough time, that there was more love in the world, and jokingly, that Dan was just one boy in a sea of men that would be my life one day.

 

My experiment with bisexuality.

One thing about living in California – whether you were born and raised there or just passing through – at some point, you’ll find yourself doing something you never imagined. That’s part of the reason I moved there.

In 1992, I was living at Ocean beach in San Diego, attending community college, and working at the Olive Tree market. Life was good. I knew I was at the beginning of the rest of my life, and I said yes to every new opportunity – provided it wouldn’t cause me physical harm. I probably should have re-evaluated that philosophy from time to time but that is what our early 20’s are for, right? Right.

My living situation was a bit tumultuous, as it had recently been discovered that I was dating the ex-boyfriend of my roommate, while living with my then boyfriend. Complicated, yes. Unheard of? No. Fortunately, one of our neighbors was moving to another part of OB and I signed up as a live-in nanny for her little kids. Our home was cozy – the kids shared a double bed and I slept in the single bunk above them. Their Mom was the definition of an earth mama. Beautiful, curvaceous, wise, with a huge heart and a sharp edged wit to her. And really soft skin. I know this because one night, when the kids were away and we had too many margaritas, we laid in her bed, laughing and making out. I don’t remember how we went from laughing at the bar to laughing in bed, but I do remember thinking how soft her skin was. I remember thinking that I could lay with my cheek against her thigh forever, if she’d let me. It was pure comfort, and I felt safe. At some point, I made my way to my bed and woke with worry about what had happened. Not only could it ruin my living situation but we’d become real friends, and I didn’t have many in California yet. But I needn’t have worried. She gave me a hug that morning, we laughed about rolling around together, I asked some questions about her sexual preferences, and then everything went back to normal. We just decided, and it was so. I feel so blessed to have had that experience with someone who had many other important things to worry about besides hurt feelings and awkward mornings. I thought all sexual experiences would go that way from then on.

I was wrong, of course.

At some point shortly after my night of soft and gentle thigh revelation, I was invited to a party down the street. This couple was friends with my ex-boyfriend, and we were all still hanging out, drinking and smoking pot, because that’s what was happening then and I was still saying Yes to everything. As the party was winding down, it was just me, another guy, and the couple saying our goodbyes. (Note: the retelling of this story is done so through a drunken, stoned haze, so while its true, the anecdotes may be better or worse than reality.) I remember the boyfriend saying that we should have another round and just chill out together. And then the word orgy came up. Probably as a joke, at first. An uncomfortable moment, putting it out there, waiting to see our responses. And then its a blur. A blur of bodies, nervous laughter, and not a bit of worry that we weren’t being careful. Naiveté at its finest.

Sadly, the 4th wheel couldn’t keep it up, so it was just me and the couple. I do remember thinking that the girlfriend would certainly take issue with the boyfriend having sex with me. That would be a normal response, in my mind. I thought this as he was fucking me, naturally. But then something interesting happened. The girlfriend came over and started kissing me. She pulled me away gently and the two of us spent the rest of the night (or what I can remember) rolling around. I remember thinking that what had transpired before, with the guys, felt violent and forced – not rape-y, more calculated. But she was soft and supple, like the experience I’d had with the thigh. Different, though, as she was tall and thin with perfect C cup breasts. I felt the same inside, a warm sense of safety and comfort. The two of us spent a few more days and nights together over the next month. Sometimes the boyfriend watched but occasionally, we would just go to the beach and braid each other’s hair. Eventually, they decided to move, which was perfect timing for me, as I was about to embark on a weekend road trip to Colorado. That vacation turned into a month long cross country trip with a woman I barely knew when I left, and who spent a good amount of time between my legs by the time we hit Kentucky. But that’s a story for another post.

My first visit to Paris.

I’d dreamt of going to Paris for as long as I could remember. My grandparents were Canadian and while their French was nothing like the language I would come to know and love, I was smitten with the idea of it. I watched An American in Paris, Funny Face and Casablanca with my father and promptly became a francophile. I took French language courses in college and enjoyed as many buttery flaky baked goods as I could find. When I was 30, I met some San Francisco women married to Frenchmen, and francophiles, like me. We eventually started a French study-group of sorts which turned into Wednesday nights drinking wine, eating cheese, and talking about the children and men in our lives. Rachel, Meredith, Nancy and Hajdeja became staples of our girl’s night out for the next 10+ years.

After I finally got a job that paid a decent salary, I decided to take a solo trip to Paris for my 32nd birthday. I booked a little hotel by Montmartre and the night I arrived, I made my way to the hill for my first view of the city and Sacre-Coeur. Which is where I met Guillaume Denis…

“Avez-vous un autre caske?” I asked.

“Pardon?”

“Avez-vous un autre caske? Shit, am I saying that right?”

“Oui, yes, you are saying it right.”

Thankfully, he spoke English.

“But I’m confused as to why you’re asking me if I have another helmet.”

And had a sexy French accent.

“Well, I was actually wondering if you’d take me for a ride. Show me the sights.”

Did I say that out loud? Had I left all discretion at the hotel? He smiled. He was dark and handsome. Mischievous, I could tell.

“You don’t look like a tourist. Actually, I thought you fit right in here.”

“Wow, you couldn’t have given me a nicer compliment.”

Wow?  I had the guts to approach a total stranger but I couldn’t seem to find better vocabulary to express myself.

“Yes, and your French is perfect.”

I thought he was sublime. Actually, I wasn’t thinking that. The beauty was, I wasn’t thinking at all, I was just doing. I was looking at this man, feeling free, in Paris, asking for what I wanted, and receiving it.

“What are you writing?” I asked.

“Oh, this? Well, it’s a musical.”

Shit. Merde. He’s gay. Of COURSE he’s gay, how could I not see that? Handsome, well dressed, albeit with the starving artist look about him.

“Oh. A musical. How nice.”

“Do I detect a note of sarcasm? It’s hard to tell with my limited English.”

“OK, you speak perfect English and understand it as well. Sorry, it wasn’t sarcasm, maybe disappointment, that’s all. Anyhow, what’s the musical about?”

“Disappointment? You had expectations already? My god, we just met! Ay, American women!”

“What?! What is that supposed to mean, American woman? How many American women approach you and ask, in French no less, if you have another helmet so that you can take her for a ride on your motorcycle?!”

He smiled again. Funny teeth, but not awful funny.

“The musical is unfinished and I can’t talk about it until it is, but suffice to say it’s about the love of one woman and conflict between brothers and…”

“Sounds like True West. Oh, sorry. That’s a play by…”

“Sam Shepard, yes, I know. I’m writing a musical, it’s a pretty good guess that I’d know a bit about plays, yes?”

“Yes. Of course.”

I looked away for a moment, reminding myself that I was in Paris, twinkling lights of the city below me. Finally, I’d made it to this place of dreams and love and passion and romance and history. The place I’d dreamed of coming to for years. And I knew when I got out of the train station that I would be hooked forever.

“What’s your name?”

“Guillaume. Et toi?”

“Christine. Je m’appelle Christine.”

Guillaume and I chatted for another few minutes until I could feel the jetlag setting in. He offered to take me for a ride the following evening but the whole thing suddenly felt impulsive, so I thanked him for the conversation and went back to the hotel.

The following morning, there was an envelope under my door. Inside was a handwritten note (that I still have) from Guillaume.

“If you still want to make a stroll in moto, it will be with pleasure. You can find me at the place we met yesterday evening. I’m certainly already there. – Guillaume.

If I do not see you this evening, I shall return tomorrow morning around noon.”

Oh Guillaume.

We met that evening and he did indeed give me a tour of Paris by motorcycle. It was magic. He even showed me the secret vineyards near Montmartre. The following night we went to see a bizarre avant-garde play. And the night after that we saw what I remember to be an incredible performance of Romeo et Juliette at the Opera house. It wasn’t a ballet per se, it was a completely new adaptation, very modern. We had drinks after at a small bar inside the Trocadero. I felt like I was living inside one of my daydreams.

And then of course, we said our goodbyes. I think we both knew instinctively that spending time together was romantic but not intimate. Guillaume was in the middle of something with someone, and I was, too. He married a beautiful woman a few years ago and has a little girl now, according to Facebook. Coincidentally, one of our conversations that first night was around advertising and marketing – an industry that we both found ourselves working in years later. Its strange to think of the people who come into our lives briefly – all of the what-ifs and the might-have-beens. In this case, though, it was perfect timing. I saw him again briefly a year later when I returned to Paris with Jackson and Richard in tow. For some reason, the language barrier was more difficult the second time around. Maybe it was because we hadn’t been practicing. Or maybe it was because the first time had an air of possibility surrounding it, as opposed to the second time when I brought my real life along with me. Regardless, I’m forever grateful to Guillaume for helping me to see Paris for all that it is.

My run-in with the SF Police

I was scared. I’d never had the police at my door before. Ten seconds earlier, I couldn’t have predicted that I’d be standing in my towel, hair dripping wet on the floor, defending myself to a couple of police officers.

Jackson had been having a tough time falling asleep and was up late that night. We hadn’t lived in our apartment long, maybe a couple of months, so he was about three years old. He was generally a great sleeper and I put him down without incident. That night he was sobbing, while I was exhausted and desperately in need of a shower, so I told him he could sleep in my bed. I finally calmed him down and told him I was going to take a shower, and that he needed to go to sleep, pronto. I normally showered while he was sleeping but it was a damp November night, I’d had another crappy day at work, and I couldn’t wait any longer. I gave him a kiss on his tangled head of curly blond hair and said goodnight.

I had just turned off the water, when the doorbell rang. I popped my head out the bathroom door and said “Just a minute!” while I put a towel around me. I was about to pull on some sweatpants when he doorbell rang again, along with a knocking. I peered through the peep hole to see two policemen, so I opened the door. There’s nothing quite like seeing San Francisco Police Department’s finest on your doorstep. How quickly my brain worked, thinking of all the terrible news they could be delivering. My stomach started churning before a word was spoken.

“We’re here to check on a disturbance that was reported anonymously.”

I told them I had no idea what they were talking about, that I’d just gotten out of the shower.

“Do you have any children in the house?”

“Yes, my son. But he’s sleeping.”

My bedroom was right off the front entrance and the door was open. Jackson was sitting up in bed, staring at the men with guns holstered to their hips. One of the policemen turned on his flashlight and shone it into the dark room, onto Jackson’s red, tear stained face.

“Are you alright in there?”

I told them he was fine, that he’d just had a hard time going to sleep. They told me that a neighbor was concerned for his safety, as he’d been “screaming and crying for 20 minutes.” Twenty minutes? I hadn’t taken a twenty minute shower for at least three years, so that was bullshit. Maybe I’d lost track of time in the shower, daydreaming. Although I was impressed at how quickly the police could show up, if needed.

“Has there been any hitting going on tonight?” He asked in a conversational, almost friendly tone. It was as if he wanted to appear as someone I’d be at ease with, and admit to hitting my son. I hadn’t, and was suddenly terrified at the notion they thought I had. Once he laid out the allegations, the pit in my stomach grew to encompass my intestines and I immediately needed to use the bathroom. They were looking at me as if I’d abused my child. Jackson was too little to say anything convincing without also crying because at that point, I believe he was more afraid of the two policemen at our door.

I realized that my breath had quickened and I could feel my heart pounding in my throat. I held my towel’s knot tighter to appear that I had my composure about me, while inside my tightening stomach and twisting bowels were doing battle. I’d watched too many crime shows on television and knew that real panic in this moment wouldn’t serve me. I calmly and quietly asked, “Is there anything else?” They said something about “better to be safe than sorry” and started walking to their car.

I closed the door, barely making it to the bathroom in time. I sat on the toilet longer than I needed to, crying quietly, while Jackson stood on the other side of the door doing the same.

My first (and only) one-night-stand

My only one night stand took place on my 21st birthday. I was at this dance club a couple of blocks away from where I lived on Garnet St. in Pacific Beach. They had a the perfect DJ for a newly 21 year old and the bartender made delicious blue Hawaiians. Don’t know what a blue Hawaiian is? That’s cool, you’re not missing anything but a hangover. And possibly STDs.

I remember seeing this guy checking me out but the truth is that he may have been checking everyone out. We just made eye contact once or twice. And then enough blue Hawaiians had kicked in and I went up and started a conversation with him. OK, fine, maybe it wasn’t actually verbal communication, it may have been in the form of body language. Mine next to his. And dancing, of course. Because I can dance. In the white-girl-overbite dorky yet sexy fashion.

The guy’s name was Jim. Jim from Boise, Idaho. He was in San Diego on his spring break. He had these sparkly blue eyes, was super tan, and had shoulder length brown wavy hair with sun streaks. And a ridiculously hot body, of course. I took him home, we had lots of sex, then he left. I was strangely proud of myself because I’d often been the clingy type with guys – trying to figure out what was going on with the relationship instead of just going with the flow. Girls like to know what’s going on, that’s just the way it is. But I let go and had sex (safely!) and said goodbye. I was real proud.

Until he called a week later, invited me to Boise, and I hopped on a plane.

I don’t know where I got the money, maybe I used some of my grant money for college, but it seemed like the logical thing to do: visit my one night stand. Anyone will tell you this is a terrible idea that will go nowhere and usually end in heartbreak. Fortunately, I was a bit more realistic. I saw it as an adventure. I even learned how to ride a motorcycle while I was there. I met some cool Boise folks. We went for beautiful hikes. Jim and I had more sex. And then I had an honest conversation with Jim’s best friend who basically told me that Jim was in love with someone else and it was so great of me to let him take his mind off of her. The day I was leaving, Jim showed me pictures of himself when he was younger. Turns out, he didn’t actually have curly hair – he permed it! He wanted to be a model, which is why he went to a tanning salon. I think his eye color might have been from contact lenses.

It was a fun adventure but I was also brought back to a harsh reality. We are all vulnerable people, distracting ourselves while our heart heals.

(Total sidenote for my son: Your Dad and I were in some in-between phase at that point, btw. I wasn’t cheating on him. For the record. I mean, one time we were in a vague in-between phase like I couldn’t quite tell if we’d actually broken up again or if we were just really really mad at each other. We did the off and on, ‘we’re on a break’ dance a lot. There was this guy that we’d been hanging out with. He was the brother of this girl Andie that everyone adored because she was so pretty and intelligent and wrote poetry (barf.) Anyhow, we were drunk and we made out. Or had sex. Honestly, I can’t remember the details but I DO remember someone telling your Dad and he wasn’t happy. He wasn’t pissed. I mean, I’m guessing here because you know how well he communicates but I remember thinking I fucked up pretty badly. But with Jim, I was in the clear, we were broken up for real.)

My turn

I was in the first grade, sitting in a tiny orange chair, fit for a six year old. We were seated in a circle. It was time for Show & Tell and today it was my turn. I can’t remember exactly what I brought, only that it didn’t matter, because today it was my turn to stand in front, my turn to talk, my turn.

Mine.

I heard the teacher call my name and I looked at her, smiling, but I couldn’t move. She repeated my name and her expression changed as she looked down at the floor below my seat. As I turned my gaze down, I noticed for the first time that I was hot and wet in my seat. I saw the pale yellow puddle forming below my chair and I couldn’t look away. I was sure that children were laughing and the teacher was saying something to me but all I could hear was the drip from underneath the chair releasing to the puddle below. The tiny drops were loud like thunder and I felt my face flush with embarrassment. I didn’t want to look at her. She was going to tell me to get up. And then what? I imagined that everyone would be going outside for recess soon and I would be free to remove myself without further humiliation. But they were not moving and she was not telling them to and I hated her. I heard her say she would call my mother and then she asked if someone else had something they would like to share for Show & Tell. Another child started speaking and the teachers’ aide lifted me up from the pool of urine collected in the seat of my chair. I could smell it now and it reminded me of the dog next door who always peed in our azalea bush, turning the pretty peach blossoms brown. My pants were cold, the warmth was gone, and they bunched between my legs as I walked. When I got to the school office, the secretary gave me a look full of pity and told me that my mother would bring me clean pants shortly and then handed me a pair of too-big gym shorts to change into. She ushered me into the bathroom and pat me on the head before closing the door behind me. I stood in front of the mirror above the sink, only able to see from my nose up, and realized that I had been crying. I was still holding my Show & Tell item in my hand and I was suddenly infuriated that I didn’t get my turn. I wanted to run back and tell them all to shut up and listen because it was still my turn.

My turn.

But instead, I peeled my wet pants off, pulled on the gym shorts, sat on the toilet seat and cried.