Those boys who "hated girls", until they got older - I never understood them. Girls were always the best.
So it's really not much of a surprise that I ended up with rocks in my head.
But that requires a little background.
I am the oldest son of my father, who is the oldest son of his family. His youngest sister was only a few years older than me. She was the coolest, and of course, she lived at my Grandmother's house, and when I was kid - after my parents got divorced, my Dad lived there too. So I spent every other weekend over there. It was a magical place where I could sit around watching monster movies all day long, eating directly out of the carton of ice cream - and whenever I wanted to go outside, my Grandfather owned a campground, that was located within walking distance of the house.
Big D's Campground was the world of adventure that opened up my youth. It's weird to think about just how unsupervised I was, in the middle of nowhere in Ohio, running through the woods and sometimes just walking the creek on my own. (or with my cousin who was a year younger). It should be noted that I'm not talking about "when I was a teenager. I'm talking about since about 5 or 6, I had the run of the place.
There were two paths down to the main campground - one was a rocky incline that my Uncles would sometimes take their 4-wheelers down but most people avoided. Then there was the "main road", which was a dirt road that also had a steep incline. It barely fit two vehicles across and at some points you just had to pull over and wait for the other car to pass.... and you could only do that on one side. That side was pulling into the woods. On the other, you only had a narrow stretch of trees before it plunged off the side of a pretty high sheer shale cliff into the shallow creek below.
That second road was where it happened.
I was pretty late when it came to learning about to do anything. If there is a "technical excuse", that would be it. I didn't really know how to do things that I "should have" known. Including riding a bike.
I got my first one when I was 7. It wasn't until I was 8 that I was really doing anything with it other than trying not to fall over. That younger cousin? He loved his dirt bike and would later go on to be involved in the BMX community. Me? Let's just say it "wasn't a dirt bike" and leave it at that. ;)
Which is how it happened.
The why it happened? Well, that goes back to having that young aunt. Who, of course, had friends her age. She was 15. I was 8, and her best friend was beautiful and always really nice to me. I wanted her to like me in the way to only a truly delusional person would think that a teenage girl would ever think a 8 year old boy was worthy of their attention. (What would have happened if - for some insane reason, she *had* decided that I was truly the one for her... I apparently never worked out that part!)
They were hanging out at the house one day, and I was tagging along. Then they decided that they were going to drive down to the campground to meet up with some friends... and I couldn't come because I was "just a kid".
Yeah, that went over about as well as you think it went.
I decided I was going to show them. I was going to ride my bike down the hill to the campground. Somewhere in my 8-year old brain I had decided that was the most manly and grown-up thing I could do. The girl would certainly be impressed with me.
I rode down to that first path, but it was short and didn't seem impressive. Which is weird, because looking back, it would have been the more difficult ride.
So I rode over to the main road, up to the where the decline started. I stared down it, making sure there were no cars coming... and started off to my destiny!
About that... as I said, there were things that I never quite got the handle on, that I should have known... simple stuff... like how went going downhill, you pick up speed as you go. And of course, how to use my brakes.
By the time I was almost down the hill, I was freaking out. I put my foot out a little, but it didn't slow enough... I was trying to keep to the middle of the road, because only in that moment did it occur to me that if I went too far to the right that I would be going off the cliff. (I didn't occur to me that I would probably DIE, but I knew it would be bad)
So I hit the brakes. Hard.
And went over the handlebars and hit the ground on my left side.
One of the campground regulars found me. I can't recall if they called my Dad or took me back up the house themselves. Pretty sure it was the latter.
The entire left side of my face was covered in blood, and my clothes were a mixture of rips, blood and dirt.
My Dad helped me get cleaned up and had me change my clothes.
The next day he took me back to my Mom's.
That "next day" part is more important than you would think... because with the blood, he didn't notice/do anything about the fact that there were visible pebbles embedded in my head, just over my left eyebrow.
My Mom noticed.
She brought out the tweezers and peroxide and got to work.
It was awful. It hurt so much and yes, I cried quite a bit. Eventually she just gave up and decided that what was still in there would just work its way out on it's own.
Spoiler - it didn't. There is still one. Right above the left eyebrow. The reminder of what happened, and everything that means about me.
I don't know if that girl ever even heard that it had happened. But if she did, I guess she wasn't impressed. ;)
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