I have been living with this broken-toothed grin for fifteen years as of this morning.
I had just locked up my bike outside of the Villa Kula house to cook Wednesday Food Not Bombs. I was probably looking forward to baking vegan banana bread or something. I always enjoyed to the sense of connected purpose that Wednesday mornings brought.
Nobody was awake at the house yet, so I decided to walk up to Auraria Campus and check my email. Remember what it was like before we all voluntarily started carrying these nightmare boxes that allow us to stay connected to absolutely everything much to the detriment of our mental health, all while they monitor our every move and we had to go places to check our email?
I don’t remember what I was so distracted by when I stepped off the curb onto Colfax Avenue, but I remember hearing a woman standing behind me scream “No!” and feeling the truck hit me. The last thing I remember before blacking out is a passing thought of “shouldn’t getting hit by a car hurt worse than this?” I met that woman later and she told me how after the car hit me I sat up and tried to pull myself off the ground before I passed back out. I’ve always thought trying to walk off a broken pelvis and two lacerated internal organs while basically blacked out tops the list of ridiculous shit I’ve done to prove to everyone I’m the toughest tiny person they know. She told me how when she went to work that day and the first thing she said to her co-workers was “I think I just watched some kid die.”⠀
I came to on the street with that woman holding a napkin to my bloody face, doing her best to assure me that I would be okay. I immediately got this sinking feeling that I’ve thankfully only had a few times in my life. There’s probably a concise word for it in another language, but it’s the feeling that comes immediately after doing something as innocuous as crossing the street, something that seemed so innocuous and normal, and your life changes forever. There was your life before that thing, and now there is your life after.
I wiggled my toes inside my boots and felt a sense of relief at knowing my spine wasn’t broken. After that i became aware of a pain in my mouth and stuck my tongue out to check on my teeth. They weren’t entirely gone yet, but they were mangled. Doctors told me later that the impact of hitting the street face first broke my teeth, ramming what was left of them into my jaw, necessitating their complete removal. They also told me my teeth absorbing the shock of my hitting the street saved me from death or a traumatic brain injury, for which I have always been so thankful. I remember that gratitude on the days when my back hurts, or my shoulder won’t sit right riding my bike.
The weeks after that day, the crew of punks I ran with in Denver, and all around showed up harder than I ever could have imagined. I remember yelling at the doctors before they would let anyone see me that I was so scared and I just wanted my fucking friends. You can imagine the relief that rushed in when I finally got to see familiar faces in the ICU. I remember feeling so thankful to be alive and to be surrounded by the love that pulled me through the scariest day of my life.
I endeavor to carry that love with me always, to carry all the love living through that accident allowed me to experience and share over the last fifteen years, on days where life on this planet leaves me so drained and demoralized, that it’s all I can do to keep living on it. I wish I could say those days have been few and far between, but they have not been, and I’ve always had a problem with being dishonest. I endeavor to offer that love back to everyone in my life, and I’m not afraid to admit that I fall short in that more often than I wish I did. I think of how many of our friends are gone, and I’m grateful for not having joined them in the hereafter, regardless of the ache their absence leaves.
If you’re reading this, I love you. Thank you. For all of our friends who are gone, I’m glad you aren’t one of them. Thank you for the privilege of our crossing paths. Thank you for the love and light you have shared, that you bring to your people. Thanks for hanging in. All we have is each other and that’s really not the worst thing in the world.