It was a sultry July night in Northport, NY. I was preparing to ride home to the city. Finished. Jacket on. Helmet on. I started home on my motorcycle. Hotter than I thought, I stopped to take my jacket off. Stuffing it under the bungee cords, I resumed my ride.
I always rode home along Route 25A. Definitely more peaceful than the Long Island Expressway with its trucks and heavy traffic returning from the Hamptons, Route 25A still provided a relatively unknown country route back to New York City. After a relaxing weekend of boating and sun bathing, the last thing I wanted to do was to contend with heavy traffic going home.
Time stops! From my safe place in the future where all this is a memory, I pull out the moment like a thin strand of hair.
The frame is frozen in time. As I peer into the freeze frame, I wonder why I revisit this scene so often. It is easier, in some ways, to say that I want to have more time at that age.
“I'm not okay. I’m going to die.”
Boom! A car, careening from the opposite direction, crossed double yellow lines, hitting my motorcycle, causing a catastrophic, explosive collision. So I was told later on.”
Traveling approximately 75 to 80 mph in a 30 mph zone, the driver and passenger were both drunk. “What would you expect from two seventeen year-olds who were probably on the beach all day. Beer cans littered the car as the party continued on the road.”
I should add that this stretch of Route 25A is a very winding road. Curves repeat after each other and there is little opportunity for the road to straighten out in this area. There are no guardrails either. If you are drunk, nothing is straight - the road isn’t, you aren’t, and your story isn’t.
An officer, on a side road, saw this car fly by and, dropping the ticket he was giving a woman, was about to give chase. Before he had a chance to get into his car, he heard the explosion.
Tossed around like a rag doll and thrown into the brush on the side of the road, I remember being asked, “Where’s the driver?” I barely said, “I am.”
The next thing I heard was, “I am shaving a little hair here. Then I heard, “Do you want to say anything?” I believe I responded, “That wouldn’t be right. I’m not sure what I believe in. I believe my answer must have thrown the priest off his chair.” I will never know just as I will never know who the neurologist was then.
Later, I opened my eyes and saw my godmother and cousin standing next to me. I mumbled, “What are you doing here?” They left and I think a nurse came over. She must have talked to me but I have no idea what she said. I know only my eyes were moving.
Lights out again.
It was July 28, 1978.
The frozen frame clicks back to real time - present.
As it turned out, I sustained a cervical spinal cord injury. The story unfolded slowly, as did my recovery. Rehabilitation was one year; where is that 25 year-old woman? Where is her spirit?
Concetta Pipia, JD, is the founder of the Aspiring Writers’ Society, an online nonfiction and creative writing group. Ms. Pipia is the founder of AWS e-zine, an online magazine, published three times a year; she is also co-editor of the same. Ms. Pipia is published in Different Truths and co-author of an interactive children’s journal. She is an alum from Parsons School of Design and Touro University School of Law.