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When it Takes Being Thrown to Learn How to Land

Joanne Solomon | Longreads | June 30, 2017 | 2,527 words
Posted inStory

When it Takes Being Thrown to Learn How to Land

An aerialist flies off her bike on the Manhattan Bridge, altering the course of her journey.
Illustration by Katie Kosma

Joanne Solomon | Longreads | June 2017 | 10 minutes (2,527 words)

My ESL student had his first dream in English the same night I dreamt about Matias. I dream in ex-boyfriends. So the morning I left Ben’s apartment and jumped on my bike, I was already thrown. I headed down Myrtle Avenue, fast, trying to escape my own skin. I wasn’t wearing a helmet.

My courtship with Ben was filled with long bike rides: sunset trips to Red Hook, routes that wrapped around rivers and crossed boroughs. When our bikes were stolen, locked together outside a café in plain daylight, Ben gave me his mom’s sturdy Dutch road cruiser that she didn’t use anymore. It was an upgrade, with a bell and a basket and newly tightened brakes.

I had sobbed into Ben’s arms the night before about my impending breakup. I’d been having an affair with Ben on and off for months. My boyfriend, Matias, lived in Mexico City. We had loosely discussed seeing other people on the heels of a fight that ended with him screaming, “If you feel like I am wasting your time, then you should go out and meet someone who won’t!” Still, we’d never had an explicit talk about actually going through with it.

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