One afternoon in Richmond I was stuck in stoplight traffic at the intersection of Harrison and Franklin Street in Richmond, minding my own business, when I was hit by a bicycle. I repeat: sitting in a stationary vehicle, I was struck by a bicycle. It was my Civic who suffered the physical blow, though the whole ordeal left me traumatized for at least an hour. Most people are dubious when I tell them I was hit by a bicycle, especially when they see the cluster of dents left, not on the side or rear, but somehow on the top of my trunk. What kind of bicycling she was doing I’ll never know because I still don’t even understand how she hit me.
I’m sitting still, waiting for the light to change when out of nowhere I feel, and hear, the THUMP. Simultaneously I witness the thump’s cause in slow-mo through the lens of my rearview mirror. A mangled mess of hair and handlebars flies up, then down. THUMP.
Thank you, Google Maps, for providing this quality screenshot of the Motherland
My chest tightens and in a lifetime of a second I experience the five stages of grief for what will surely be the loss of my freedom because somehow I’ve managed to kill someone while sitting still at a stoplight. Just my luck. Thanks, Universe. Mostly I’m shocked, even mystified at how this has happened. I can’t understand how I’ve just hit a person without ever moving.
I can’t tell you how much time passed before shock gives way to terror, then confusion and then, a rush of relief when the lady in question pops into my left side mirror, running toward my front window with bulging frantic eyes calling out, “Ohmygod! I’m so sorry!” Ohthankgod. It was her fault. I’m so relieved I could peed my pants (maybe I did?). I’m too stunned to say much save for a dumb inquiry as to the state of her wellbeing. Then the light changed and off I go, still in disbelief.
Later I notice the dent marks on the top of my trunk, presumably from her handlebars. To this day I have no idea how she managed to hit me the way she did. There’s no evidence of her hitting the car from the side or the rear; somehow she just wound up on my trunk, hair, handlebars and all.
The news is full of talk about whether or not the bombing yesterday was terrorism. Interpretation: The officials are trying to figure out if dem der A-rabs are at it again. Let me tell you something kids, whether committed by Arabs, Americans, Latinos, or aliens (no, not the immigrant kind), this shit was terrorism. So, it is a
gross–no, disgusting–insult to humanity for officials to “suggest” that terrorism was involved. People were terrorized yesterday. They were terrified. They were appalled and hurt and sad and angry and damaged– by terror. So, if this isn’t terrorism I don’t know what is.
Why is it that a detonated bomb is only considered “terrorism” if it was done so by a radical Islamist? I guess it’s just political climate. Fueled by people who won’t speak up. Because they’re just trying to do their job, pay their bills, and focus on getting through their daily lives. We’ve come to just accept that policy is an almost impossible feat to work through productively.
I’m cranky, kids. I’m sad for humanity. But, as I told a friend today, I take solace in the knowledge that for every bad apple, there is a bunch of good ones. I’m young- as young as you all will be some day – but, after over two decades of existing on earth, I know see that as the truth.
Be strong. “Keep calm. [&] Carry on.”
Gun-speak and political lingo fly out as you all are barely in high school. (Except you, Henry.) When I was in fourth grade, a suicidal high schooler blasted up his school and killed teenagers whose worst fault was probably snakiness. (Not to say that this isn’t bad. Snaky people suck, but that’s not really a good reason to kill someone.) When I was 16, some crazy person crashed [Virginia] Tech’s happy-go-lucky atmosphere. A few months ago, some evil man rolled up into an elementary school and eliminated over twenty childhoods and futures. All of these things have culminated into a nasty political debate about gun laws and gun control.
Like many others, I think this debate is a waste of focus, time, and oxygen. No matter what, weapons will still end up in the hands of people with bad enough intentions and fierce enough will to harm. Today, two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon. Many injured. Several dead. Politicians everywhere are shaking their fists to the left or to the right about guns, but what about violence? Isn’t that the bigger issue?
If not guns, there will be bombs. If not bombs, there will be fire. If not fire, there will be stones. Maybe instead of focusing on just one weapon that can be used to actualize hate, maybe, just maybe we should ALL focus on the moral climate of our community. This probably will not involve politicians, given that politicians are usually the most a-moral group of jerks out there. Instead, it needs to involve us at every second of every day.
Open the door for others. Smile when you make eye contact. Acknowledge the stranger in the elevator: s/he is no more invisible than you. Say “bless you” when someone sneezes. Listen up when your friend comes to you with a problem. Don’t interrupt others, but speak up when it’s time. Please and thank yous. Wave people through at stop signs. Make the slightest, most subtle differences that culminate in cohesive community.
I’m not sure what is the point or main takeaway of this note. These are just my thoughts. Do with them what you will. Just remember that a single smile or kind word to a person on the edge could inevitably save lives. Because violence only arises from hatred, and hatred is bred from meanness and lack of consideration– lack of community.
Dear nephews and niece:
I love you all so very much, but I never get to talk to any of you little bastards. I’m writing this blog for you all, so that one day in the future you guys can look back and see just how awesome your aunt Cat(ie, whichever you prefer) really is. This is especially important in our family given that so many of them are embarrassing crazypeople.
Since I was younger than all of you are now (except for Henry, because, well, let’s face it Henry- you’re 2) my goal in life has been to travel and see the world. As of today I’ve barely covered a smidgen of good mother Earth, but soon amigos, soon… Insh’Allah (as they say in Arabic) I will go to Dubai next year to teach, and after I will go to many other places. Mark my words. In the meanwhile, I currently live in my home of four years, Richmond VA. Good ol’ RVA.
Anywho, I hope you all will enjoy this whenever you may read it. In the meanwhile I’m just going to keep it on the interweb, in the event that someone would like to plagiarize my inexcusably good writing.
Much love to you all. Kick your parents for me the next time you see them.