It was mid-August, just two months since I’d moved to Oakland, and I had really started to enjoy my morning commute.
Donning my badass leather jacket, my Lisbeth Salander boots, and my mat-black helmet, I would tune my blue-tooth to Steve Wright in the Afternoon; for some reason, I’ll always be curious about the traffic on the M25.
I would fire my beautiful, red Triumph Bonneville (Kevin) up, pull him into the brilliant sunshine, and fly across the Bay Bridge, the sky and the ocean filling my visor with countless shades of blue.
But not this morning. This morning is different.
I leave the house at the same time as Mat, which I’ve only done twice since we’ve lived here. On a slow Tuesday morning, we mount our bikes together, wordlessly, both groggy in the still of the morning. I fire-up Kevin and come to life, excited, as always, to be sitting astride this beautiful machine.
Within seconds, I realise I haven’t done-up my helmet, so I stop at the entrance to the garage and fasten it. Pulling Kevin out onto the main road that takes us to the freeway, I catch up with Mat a couple of blocks down, and settle in front of him in the same lane – staggered – as we’d learnt in motorcycle school.
A few blocks pass and my ears fill with the sound of screeching brakes.
Something else they teach you in motorcycle school; ‘It’s not if you get into an accident, it’s when’. For me, it only took eight months.
BANG. The sound is deafening as a car from the other side of the road skids into the van in front of me, spinning it around, before continuing its trajectory towards Kevin.
I brace myself. “Ah, fuck”.
And then it hits me. Head on. Visceral, sharp, steel-on-steel; the pure physicality of metal, bending, shredding, smashing into my body.
The next thing I know, I’m lying on the ground, half-on and half-off the curb. I am cradled in Mat’s arms as he holds me, pushing a blanket gently into my groin with one hand. There is blood. He is shouting at someone now, anyone, to call an ambulance. ‘I’m in agony,’ I tell him, in a voice I don’t recognise. ‘I know baby, I know’.
Everything is hot.
When I open my eyes again, I am being pushed into some kind of hanger with a big metal door. I don’t know how I’m moving. I think there are wheels. People are shouting.
Everything is noise.
‘Female. 31. High-speed motorcycle trauma. Significant blood-loss from groin area. Multiple fractures. Likely Pelvis. Neck. Deformed shoulder’.
I see people running towards me. They cut open my clothes and grope their way around my body, feeling for damage.
A nurse tries to move my left arm and I let out a crippling scream. ‘Suspected broken left wrist’, she yells, before bending down and looking me in the eyes, ‘it’s going to be ok. You’re going to be ok’. I don’t believe her.
Well, it’s been a good life, I think. I guess this is it. It feels impossibly real, and yet, somehow like a dream. As if I’ve woken up in a scene from somebody else’s life. Then I think about Mat, and my family, and my friends, and I realise I can’t die yet. I picture my mum receiving the news, and forget how to breathe. A mask is pushed onto my face. My face. I wonder what that looks like now.
I am wheeled towards a big white tunnel and placed on a hard board that slowly pulls me inside. The pain is melting to euphoria. Something is in my veins. It feels like bliss. The light moves around me and the machine hums. Maybe it’s ok to die. Maybe this is the next adventure, I decide, as I slip into oblivion.