I have no doubt in my parent’s lack of intention when I was named mishap, and I am all the more grateful for this title. Life becomes more colorful during its missteps, and my life at UCI has enjoyed a full spectrum of victories and mistakes. To make this introduction worth your time and attention, let me introduce myself through a series of blunders — namely, those involving a bicycle.
It was my first Saturday night in Irvine, and I had a mission to go out. I had just completed the meticulous process of decorating my dorm in Mesa Court. As a freshmen with no friends, no car, and no understanding of Irvine, my options were limited. Suddenly, the solution came to me: a nighttime bike-ride.
It was the perfect option. I could bike without other students or UCIPD in the way. I zipped through Ring Road and sped through Aldrich Park, taking in the sight of the old oak trees in the dark, the quietness of the lamplights, the beautiful emptiness of all 21 acres of Aldrich Park. This cinematic moment convinced me I was invincible, and undergrad life would be awesome. I chose this moment, for no particular reason, to look behind me.
My bike veered off the sidewalk and I planted head first into the grass. No song was playing when I dragged myself to the nearest available bench. My knees were a bloody mess and I couldn’t walk for a good twenty minutes. I had no friends, no ability to ride back, no knowledge of UCI’s blue-light system, no understanding of Irvine. I laughed out loud at these realizations: I was a little in over my head. After enough time passed, I crawled away and into the rest of my freshmen year. That bench I fell in front of, and healed upon, became my bench. My mission to go out on a Saturday night gave me my first real memory at UCI. This was a clumsy, humorous memory that reminded me of my humanness, a metaphorical accident which still teaches me to get up, my first real story to tell.
My second bike accident snuck up on me on a gorgeously sunny day. I had just finished a wonderful campus tour as a Campus Rep. I was still experiencing the high after my audience had laughed at the majority of my jokes. At this point, my facts were tight and my anecdotes a hit. With jokes good (and bad) enough to make dads laugh, I felt confident.
I decided to treat myself to a Venti-sized passion-fruit lemonade. I delicately placed the drink in my bike’s basket, and rode fiercely on towards Campus Village. I had miraculously ridden up that daunting hill leading to Biological Sciences. When I arrived in one piece, I felt on top of the world — or at least that hill. I was so close to home, and happy enough to ignore the precise way both shoelaces had been untied and wrapped in the pedals. I was trying to figure out a way to somehow safely get off the bike when I lost balance on the stationary bike. I fell slowly and carefully, without hope of stopping. I was dragged down with my bike onto the hard cement, my untouched drink now a pool of hot pink already evaporating on the sidewalk.
My second year began with this early bike accident, a moment I could share with Soulstice League as we discussed our week around the conference room table. I remember trying to think about the cosmic significance of falling. Maybe once was an accident, but twice? A coincidence, perhaps. A third time? Surely, a sign of good fortune.
My third time, dear reader, did come. It happened during my second week abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. Similar to my first experience, I had no friends or familiarity (yet), but I did have bustling, medieval buildings and cobbled-stone paths. Every new day came with a mixture of fear and excitement. On that particular day, I had just left the Scottish Poetry Library. Maybe I was staring at the sky or caught in a daydream, but a biker had hit me hard on my shoulder and arm as I had stepped off the curb. I was caught completely off-guard, and in my disheveled state, I simply apologized and ran away.
As the physical pain was settling into my arm, I remembered my earlier bike incidents. Both of those years started off with these mishaps. Freshmen year began with me bleeding (alone) in a park, and ended with me surrounded by my best friends from my freshmen hall. Second year began with me crying over spilled Starbucks after a tour; it ended with me loving my two organizations (Campus Reps and Soulstice League). Junior year began with getting hit with a bike after going to a poetry library; it ended with me completing the Creative Writing Emphasis, somehow becoming Editor in Chief of a literary journal, and winning an on-campus poetry award.
My college career has always been linked to these mishaps. They are ingrained in my movements and thoughts; but I see these mistakes as markers for blessings, a sign of a good year ahead. I don’t know if I’ll have another biking accident my fourth year -- I am waiting to see. But if (or when) it happens, I’ll be prepared with band-aids and optimism to get me through.