So. I've been back in Chicago for just over a week, and damn if it hasn't been the craziest time. The day after I got back, last Tuesday, I went out to an event at a bar across town for my friend N. I stayed there until maybe 1:30, and on the way home something happened. I wish I could be more specific, but in all honesty I can't remember what it was, and no, I was not drunk. (It bothers me to have been asked that question so many times. No, I wasn't.) I was on my bike, and the last memory I have is of some sort of flurry of activity in front of me; I thought that it was followed by a run-in with a curb, but I'm no longer sure. The next thing I remember is two people asking me questions, and I remember them helping me lock my bike to a post before they loaded me into a cab and I went to an emergency room. I crashed, or was hit by a car, and hit my head so hard that everything from the point of impact on is one giant fuzzy ball of memory that doesn't have a coherent sense even now, a week later. Whatever happened happened, and if not for the two amazing people who found me I don't know what would have happened next. I lost my glasses in the accident, and had no cash on me; it was roughly 2:30 in the morning by the time I was found (and I should have been home at least twenty minutes before that without incident). I was so disoriented that I don't know how I would have coped if not for the fact that they gave a cab driver money and left me a note in my book with their phone number and a message about where my bike was. I don't know how I would have saved myself.
N came and stayed with me at the hospital until I was declared more or less well and gave me a place to sleep for the night, and Anna picked me up the next morning (after she received my midnight panicked text) and helped me collect my poor wrecked bicycle and delivered me to my doorstep. (I have AMAZING friends, let it be noted.) It seems like a dream, except for the persistent neck pain and the id bracelet I saved from the hospital that identified me as the thirteen-year-old middle eastern boy a few beds down from me. (They also apparently took and kept my license, which I had to return for a few days later, prompting the question: did they have any idea who I was? Scary.) I spent a day mostly in bed, taking lots of ibuprofen and explaining to the people who I had called or texted in a panic the night before (I remember very little of this) that I was still alive and relatively well.
Until today, it was almost a funny story. I downplayed it to myself and others, because the truth was too serious. Just for comparison, earlier this summer I got drunk at a local bar and fell down en route home and ended up with major scars on both hands and one knee; had I not been loosened up by alcohol I suspect I would have broken one or both wrists. A headache seemed like I got off easy. But today I replaced my glasses and took my bike in to the shop, and while I was there it occurred to me: I was probably hit by a car. It is not clear whether I could have caused that much damage to my bike frame by slowly riding into something under my own power. I was probably hit by a car, which either drove away or asked me if I was okay--which I surely would have told them I was unless something was obviously broken--and then drove away. I am so lucky. To be alive, to be relatively uninjured, to have been wearing a helmet (I always do, but still): I am so damn lucky. I could be dead. I could be still in the hospital. My bike could be unfixable. I could be unfixable. I was on the beach tonight, watching a queer guitar circle of my friends singing Ani songs as the sun went down and I dug my feet into the sand, and I was so fucking grateful to be alive. I am so damn lucky.