Collision Courses

Last week I was hit by a motorcycle and by a new language. I keep waiting to see if one of those will leave a mark. The bike accident wasn’t as bad as you would think, but I wish I could clearly remember what happened, where the guy came from. I’m paranoid that it was my fault and that after the driver flew off his bike and went head first into a tree and hopped right back up, helmet intact, he developed some terrible spinal injury and died, and now everyone in town knows I’m the stupid American woman who killed a young man. A couple of days later I was standing on my hotel room balcony and noticed a guy across the street taking pictures of the hotel, of me? I turned my back, but I could still see him there in the reflection of the glass, snapping away. I became convinced I was going to be called in for questioning, about the accident, about what I’m doing here. So far that hasn’t happened, but the worry lingers, long after the soreness in my back from the wreck has faded. I’m here on a tourist visa, which the local police know because they record the details from everyone’s passports. Research and journalism are not allowed on a tourist visa in Vietnam (little do they know that I’m pretty incompetent at both those things). In my worst moments, however, I worry about this a lot.

Bikes in VietnamDetails of the accident are fuzzy. I think he hit my front wheel and I flew off the bike backwards and landed flat on my back without a scrape. I managed to keep my head up and not let it slam into the pavement, causing minor neck soreness a few days later. My sunglasses traveled 15 feet.  I anticipated huge blooming bruises on my back and hip, but for reasons I cannot explain none ever appeared. I did suffer from agonizing back spasms for several days, and endured the long, painful, sleepless first night when I was convinced I had some ghastly internal injury, like a ruptured spleen, wherever my spleen is. But, since there appeared to be no real harm done, I got back on the bike gingerly the next day, and I just gradually got less and less stiff and sore day by day. But I was scared and hurt and lonely. And that, too, got better day by day.
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