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 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.