I fell off my bike for the umpteenth time that week, sitting on the asphalt cradling my injured knee in my aching hands. Gravel stung the open cuts as I finally mustered the courage to get back up. Tears threatened the brims of my eyes. I hobbled my way back up the driveway but it felt more like climbing a mountain in that moment. The bike taunted me while the beads jingled as they rose and fell upon the spokes of the wheel and I threw it down the second I was within the comfort of the empty garage. I ran up the wooden wheel chair ramp, flinging the door open but making sure to close it behind me. My grandpa hated it when we left the door to the garage open. The brisk walk to the kitchen felt like miles and I all but collapsed into my grandma’s arms the second she was within good distance. After several minutes of reassuring me that the world had, in fact, not fallen apart around me, she helped me to the bathroom where she nursed my wounds back to health with band-aids and a blue liquid that she swore wouldn’t sting (and it didn’t, she never did lie). All of a sudden, it all became better. She had soothed my pain and the world fell back onto the axis it exists on. Life was bright again.
That memory hits me like a ton of bricks some days. So do a lot of other ones. Some days are harder than others. I don’t think it’ll ever get a whole lot easier at this point. I could go through my entire life with that thought as far away as possible until I hear the scrape of a bike tire, the wind replicating the sound from those beads on the spokes, the pounding of anxious sneakers on the ground.
All of a sudden I’m back on the asphalt. I can feel the sting in my hands again. No one tells you how bad emotional pain can feel. How impossible coping can be. How the pull on your heart never really weakens all too much. How, even at 21, I often still feel as though I could be the little girl sitting on the bathroom floor with my grandma. Except she’s not here to soothe the wounds anymore. And the wounds have become more substantial, far worse than a simple scrape the knee from tumbling off the bike.
I wish I could go back to that. To the days where the bus let off at the top of the street, allowing us to sprint home with our backpacks thumping on our backs the whole way. To the evenings filled with conversation of homework and elated triumphs over gym class records and reading tests. To the afternoons where she was always sitting at the kitchen table awaiting our arrival. To the time where she simply was.
I’d give anything to go back to that.
To scraped knees.