Under Your Skin

Today for the first time I got soaked to the skin.

This morning I rode my bike to work, drinking in the sun and carefree in canvas sneakers, an airy skirt and a light sweater. I am scared of riding my bike. I clench my hands hard on the handles, eyes darting left to right, ears listening for angry drivers revving their engines behind my slowly turning feet. I looked out the box office window all day, walked about in the sun for a pathetic 10 minutes. Rode hard and fast after work to some important meeting for one of those important things that I seem to do all the time. The minute we adjourned the meeting the first specks of rain mottled the windshields of parked cars. Then the rain came harder, faster, making the bell on my handlebars sing. The moment I swung my leg over my bike a flash of lightning lit up the pavement. By the time I was on my way I was in the midst of one of those monsoons, those rebellious moments of weather where we are reminded we live in a rainforest.

I squinted and grumbled as I pedaled. I have been raised like a little porcelain egg, packaged and protected. Keep between 15 and 25 degrees celsius. Fragile. Keep away from water. But when you are cycling home in a rainstorm, you have no choice but to get wet. It soaked through my skirt first, splashing up onto my frozen thighs. Then my shoes went, first one, then the other, shoe then sock down to my soggy toes. My light grey sweater turned black and then plastered to my skin, just like my skirt. I felt almost naked. The rain hurt at first, like pins and needles. Soon my skin was numb and I felt warm all over, warm from within, somehow. More lightning. More thunder, just seconds apart from one another. I blazed through stop signs and flew down hills. My brakes barely work on a good day but on wet pavement they were simply an afterthought. I should have been smashed to pieces by a truck, skidded sideways on sharp turns, but I didn’t. I simply glided, uninterrupted through intersections and negotiated turns like I was one with the bike. I intentionally hit the puddles and leaped the curbs.

I would have screamed out loud to the cozy Kitsilano streets if I could take a breath that didn’t burn. I would have thrown my arms in the air if I could pry my frozen fingers from the handlebars. So I didn’t. I just splashed through the soggy streets with a smile stuck on my face, laughing at the people running from car to front door, dodging fat raindrops that bounced off the pavement. Today something happened that I’ve carefully prevented all my life because it happened to me. I got soaked to the skin. And I let it happen because when you do that, the rain can’t get you wet. It’s under your skin.

 

 recycled from a diary entry in 2010, cause sometimes you write it right the first time.  I also now have a bike with proper brakes, don’t worry.
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