As the first week of classes loom, there is nervousness and excitement in the air. Farewell gifts from Singapore are unwrapped – one, from a beloved nephew and niece-in-law is a set of sleek cardinal-coloured writing books with our names embossed on the cover. Student life, here we come! Another thoughtful gift has a little card with a “Break a leg” wish… and silly me decides to take these good wishes a little too literally. Let me tell you what I refer to.
Our home is a couple of miles from the centre of the University campus. The San Francisquito Creek, a narrow and pretty little stream, serves as the boundary. Folklore abounds that a few hundred years ago, slaves used to try escape bondage by swimming across this creek, many unsuccessfully. Here I will desist from digressing into the role of Junipero Serra in North California’s sordid slave history, and the current renaming of several roads and buildings on the Stanford campus underway!
Our sabbatical abode for the next year, a charming cottage, has a shed with several bicycles lying crestfallen. Every time I leave the house, I hear them moan, yearning to be ridden. Realising that I can find a riding path to cut short the distance to our classes, I decide to go on an adventure. I select and wheel out one bicycle to head off in quest of a wooden bridge over the creek. Let me at the outset, declare and assert that, as a responsible adult, I tightened my shoelaces and adorned a helmet. I take a deep breath since it has been a while (30 years!) since my last foray on a bicycle. To keep the next bit brief and forgettable, the seat was too high, the road infrastructure pre-historic, and soon, I am crestfallen (and more), my dream shattered, as is my radius and ulna.
As is my wont, I try to look at the positives and there are plenty. It’s my right wrist incapacitated and I am a south paw. It could have been plates and screws, but it’s just a cracked bone, no displacement. A friend congratulates me for not having a concussion! Another for having an accident on a weekday – apparently, Stanford ER has a long line of bike fall casualties on weekends. So I resolve to think of it as a mere inconvenience, and a lesson learnt. No more falls this fall quarter.
Of course, this means a temporary goodbye to tennis and swimming. Also, very tragically, the bicycle escapade had to occur the day after our much anticipated new car arrived. I grumble against government regulators for not permitting me to harness its full capability as a ‘self-driving’ automaton when it’s most needed! The biggest casualty is the sharp decline in trust levels with family, and I am in the doghouse receiving limited sympathy…
I use it as an ice breaker with my new classmates. It is tempting to spin a different yarn with each new person, but integrity trumps creativity. So I stick to the real story: “I was dumb.”
Tune in next week to hear my musings about the first week of classes – I promise it will be more upbeat!