It's Not About Your Freedom
It was beautiful summer day in late July. The kids and I had just finished grocery shopping at Dominick's in Northfield, and we were headed home to unwind for the afternoon. As we waited at the red light at Happ and Willow I noticed a man on a motorcycle in the other lane, one space ahead of me. He was young, and as we waited for the light to turn he leaned far back in his seat and stretched his arms over his head. He reminded me of a cat in the sun.
The light turned green and he took off like the proverbial bat, weaving in and out of the cars ahead of him to break free of the pack and clear the traffic. Fool, I thought to myself, driving in the same direction but behind several cars. A minute later we passed a motorcycle cop standing on the side of the road, strapping on his helmet and getting on his bike, and I wondered if he was going after the speeding bike. I instinctively slowed down, even though I wasn't above the speed limit.
Immediately I had to slow down again, as the two cars in front of me jammed on their brakes. And then I saw it. The only thing I could say in that moment was a sort of chant: "Oh my god oh my god oh my god." My kids asked me what was wrong, and then they saw it, too. "Mama, what is that?"
"It" was the motorcycle that we had seen at the red light, now a twisted mass of barely recognizable silver metal, and it was lying in the middle of the intersection at Willow and Chestnut. The man who had been riding it was lying in the grass on the side of the road, on his back and not moving, and another man was leaning over him with his hands under his head. The emergency vehicles had not arrived yet. People were getting out of their cars, cell phones in hand. I turned to detour the scene, shaking and repeating my useless mantra, "Oh my god oh my god oh my god." The intersection remained closed for the rest of the day.Continued on the next page