That Day

That Day

Gen Nagaya, Gr. 9

    It’s a cool summer morning, with the smell of Hibiscus flowers in the air. We can hear dogs barking and the sounds of the highway in the distance. Suddenly, my friend Julian and I disrupt the quiet, riding our dirt bikes through the street. Doing wheelies and hitting jumps. We made our way up the road, then put the dirt bikes away and got out our BMX bikes and went into the street. 

    Julian’s house has a large patch of road in front of the driveway. This is where we ride our bikes. Earlier, we had made two small ramps about six inches high, at the lips. We set these up to form a small gap jump about one foot long so that Julian’s four year old brother Sandy and his friend Enzo could learn how to hit the ramp on their bikes. Julian and I were teaching the little kids how to jump their bikes when Julian, thinking he was going too fast, told Sandy to slow down the moment he was going to hit the jump which caused him not to have enough speed to make it across the gap. His front tire hit the landing which made him flip over the bars, and hit his face on the road. He was crying when, Julian’s dad pulled up and saw him crying. He was mad. He’d told us earlier not to let Sandy and Enzo hit the ramps.          

   After that happened, we decided to take a break for a little while. When we went back outside, it was just me and Julian so we set up the gap jump to be about 5 feet. We then started to hit it then move it further after each time. We did this until the gap between the launch and landing was about seventeen feet long.

   We were hitting that when Jordan, our other friend, showed up with a ramp that he and Julian had made the other day. This ramp was no joke. It was four feet high at the lip, and very steep. We put it at the foot of the hill at the start of Julian’s driveway, and looked at it for a little while, sizing it up and gauging the trajectories that we would go when we hit it. 

   We decided it would be ok, but there was still the issue of it being an intimidating jump. None of us had hit a jump like this before. It was a combination of a gap jump of about fifteen feet and a step up of about 5 feet. First, we did a few run-ups and then started to go off the sides where it was smaller. 

   We did this for a little while until we knew the feel of the ramp well, and knew that it would be ok. I was the first to try it. I sat on my bike at the end of the road, taking deep breaths, getting myself into the mindset for attempting a stunt like this. As I set off, getting speed, the rest of the world faded away. It was just me, the ramp, the landing, and the space between these three absolutes. For the first time in a long time, I felt fear, a real fear that you only experience when you are about to do something that you know is very dangerous, but above this fear, I felt excitement. This is what I live for, this is the reason I ride BMX. Time slowed down as I finally hit the ramp. I felt the air rushing around me, and the ground rushing up to meet me. I was on the ground before I knew it. My bike had floated away from me as I was in the air, and I landed on my feet, and tumbled to the ground. Man, it was an exhilarating ten seconds.      

  Julian and Jordan were congratulating me, and rushing to get their bikes to give it a go themselves. I could taste mud and blood from when I rolled on the mud and bit my lip, but that was okay. I just wanted to hit the ramp again, to feel that rush of adrenaline once more.

  Before I could do that though, I suggested that we move the ramp, because I had felt that the angle of launch was a bit steep. It made it so that you really had to boost it. After we adjusted the angle, we started to session the ramp. The second time that I hit it, I added a bit of style to the jump, turning my bars and leaning the bike to the side. 

   We rode the ramp for about an hour, taking videos and trying new tricks, then decided to take a break. After we had our energy back, we went back outside. Before we had hit it, Jordan said he wanted to move it. 

   Jules and I felt we didn’t need to mess with it at all and that it was fine as it was but we reluctantly agreed. After we moved it, we tested how it felt but we didn’t like it at all, so we moved it again. We still didn’t like it, so we moved it more, to the point where it was okay. It was worse than it was earlier but we wanted to ride so we hit it anyway. After riding it for a while, we noticed that part of the ramp’s frame was cracked. We fixed it up by screwing a bar of wood to it, hoping that it would do the trick. Oh, how wrong we were. 

   When we started to ride again, I was in a weird state of mind. When doing dangerous stunts, you don’t want to be thinking of anything but the trick that you’re going to do. You want to have total concentration. Otherwise, you might make a mistake, and at the scale that we were at, that could be disastrous. 

   As always, I wanted to hit it first. Before I went, I talked to Jules about the mindset thing. He said that he sang a song in his head, and I thought that was an interesting idea. I personally just cancel everything out, and I mean everything, and completely focus on the jump and the air between the jump and the landing. 

   As I was pedaling down the road, I thought back to Julian’s advice about singing a song in my head, and I tried that. As I hit the ramp, I felt it move, and I felt the nose of my bike drop, I saw the ground rushing up to meet me, and in that moment, I knew there was nothing I could do to avoid the unavoidable. My world exploded as I hit my head and shoulder. 

   At first, I wasn’t very worried because I usually walk away from injuries just fine, but as I sat up, I knew I wasn’t walking away from it. My shoulder really hurt, and I just thought it was bruised or dislocated, but when I felt around with my fingers, I felt a big lump that wasn’t supposed to be there. Julian and Jordan tried to reassure me that they had heard a pop, because if that was the case, it would mean that I only dislocated my shoulder, which is a pretty essay to fix. I didn’t believe them though.

   As I was wondering how it had happened, I remembered the broken frame that we jankily fixed. That had to be what had happened! The fix must have broken and thrown the ramp at a weird angle causing the crash. When we moved it around, it must have changed how and where force was applied to the frame. I was annoyed at Julian and Jordan, blaming them for the ramp breaking, moving it unnecessarily. I know these reasons were not their fault at all but in the shock of the moment, I just needed a reason for everything. I felt that I needed to go to the hospital immediately.

   I slowly stood up, and limped to the house, and sat on the couch, holding ice to my shoulder area. I immediately called my mom and told her that I had broken my shoulder. Luckily, she was in Hilo so she could drive me to the hospital. She picked me up about twenty five minutes later and we drove to the hospital and went into the ER. I arrived shirtless because I didn’t have a shirt on when I was riding, and I couldn’t put one on now because it would have hurt a lot. I had to sit in the cold ER waiting room for about forty minutes like this.

   When they finally called me in, I was pushed on a wheelchair to a room where I lay in a bed. As I was laying there, I heard a man in the next room speaking. He was talking about how he could feel himself slowly drifting away, how he couldn’t really move around anymore, and just didn’t want to live anymore. As I was sitting there with a broken collarbone, listening to a man talking about his hardships in life, I thought about all of the struggles that people around the world must have gone through. Something like this could just be the tip of the iceberg, I realized. I thought of all of the small things that I have made big deals of, that looking back on were petty, pointless wastes of time. I was thinking about things like that when the doctor came in, and said that the X-ray people were coming in. It might not hurt to mention I might just have been light headed from maybe getting a concussion and the painkillers they gave me. I waited for what felt like a long time before the X-ray people came in. Finally, they took X-rays of my shoulder and stuff.       

   After they left, I waited for a bit, when the doctor came in and told my mom that we needed to go to the orthopedist and that was that. We just left after that. It was surprisingly little that they did. A week and a half passed before I went to the orthopedist, where they X-rayed me again. This time, they showed me the X-rays and I saw that it was a really bad break. The orthopedist said that it would take about four months before I can do any riding or working out. 

   This really brought me down, though I didn’t show it. I started to fall into a sort of depression, knowing that it would be a long time before I could do some of the activities that I had started to come to love. This made me realize that I need to be grateful for anything that I have, because it can always be taken away at any moment. I realized, if I want to do something, I should just do it, if I like a girl, I should just ask her out, If I want to be able to do a BMX trick, I should just attempt it because there might come a time when I won’t be able to.  I know that people always say these kinds of things, and we all nod our understanding, but no one actually understands. This time, I really understood.

   That day, listening to the orthopedist talking, I learned how it felt to be powerless, unable to do things for myself. I think this experience changed the way that I think, and will continue to influence my choices till the day I die.