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POV: Flight.

POV ("point of view") is a series that addresses many of the same themes covered in my Equals Record column: growing up, saying yes to adventure, learning to embrace a quarter-life crisis. Each POV entry will include a photograph and a short reflection based on what’s pictured. While my previous column focused largely on ideas, POV will focus on moments - glimpses, glances, tiny stories.

Earlier this year, I went for a run in the snow and fell, hard, hitting concrete face-first.  Blood dripped from somewhere - my nose, I guessed - and I walked home with a sweatshirt over my face.

No one was on the street to ask if I was all right. Am I all right? I remember thinking, and I didn’t know.

“I bet you’ll never run in the snow again,” someone told me months later.

“I haven’t run since,” I said.

As a child, I remember sitting on the arms of a linen sofa, concentrating hard on the business of flying. I’d been told, by many grown-ups whom I trusted, that I could do anything as long as I believed in myself.

I jumped. I jumped again. I believed. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, I thought.

But I ended up on the ground every time. I learned - slowly, the hard way - about an inescapable hazard of human-powered flight: the crash.

I survived. But I stopped jumping.


Last weekend, I learned to ride a bike. I started by mastering a straight line, riding up and down a pier in Chelsea with Yair, an ever-patient presence behind me. 

In time, we crossed over to the West Side Highway, riding to Battery Park City and the Lower East Side. Along the way, I wobbled, I swerved, one time nearly toppling into a wave of oncoming bike traffic by failing to come to a complete stop at a traffic light.

We ended the day on the Williamsburg Bridge. I'd been on a bike for six hours by then, and my legs tingled. My hands ached, with fingers numbed from an afternoon of white-knuckled grip. 

The last stretch of the bridge is a downhill slope, a journey that takes most bikers one or two minutes at best. It took me ten. I skidded and jerked, trying to keep my balance as I accelerated. Other riders hurtled past. I felt lost suddenly, out of control. I wavered. 

“I hate this!” I yelled over my shoulder, though for some curious reason, I was laughing.

The next day, I told Megan about it. “Biking has always felt like flying to me,” she mused.

“I was fine all day,” I said, “but I was terrified going downhill. I couldn’t feel my legs. I could have fallen.”

That was true, she told me. But you didn’t. You lived.

You can find my previous POV entries, here, and the archive for my personal essay column on the Equals Record, hereThank you so much for your support, as always! Photo via my Instagram.

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