Tuesday, September 8, 2009

happy accidents

I had to sign an incident report when I picked Dora up from school today. This sounds like a big deal, but it was just because Dora fell on the sidewalk at school, scraping up both of her knees enough that they were bleeding. Because they had to provide "medical" care to her, I had to sign a form acknowledging the incident. I'm sure it's stressful for the teachers to have to tell parents this kind of thing, but I just smiled - Dora had two band aids on her knees. I'm sure she was THRILLED about that, more than anything else. The teacher said she didn't even cry - just pouted, and was indeed very happy when she got her two band aids.

After we came home, we had dinner, walked the dogs, and waited for someone to come by our house to purchase Brian's old bike that I have advertised on Craig's List. Brian bought the bike not long after we met, when we wanted to start biking together. I don't remember doing much biking other than on vacation until we moved here. When we moved here, I didn't work for the first few days we lived here so that I would have some time to settle in. I can barely remember what things were like then - no baby, fewer pets. Brian didn't have a job yet - we were totally broke. We lived in a different house, drove different cars. We spent a lot of time wondering if we'd made a huge mistake. We asked our cable installer, a young, hippyish dude with lots of hair, where to try out mountain biking. He suggested we try Bent Creek - and our interest in mountain biking was born.

We are not gear-heads at all - just regular folks who like biking in the woods. We struggled through trails together, slowly advancing to harder and harder trails as we got more comfortable and confident. I was always a slow rider, but Brian was happy to wait for me. All summer long, we'd throw the bikes in the back of Brian's truck after work and on the weekends, drive out to Bent Creek, and blow off some steam. It was great - a beginning to our simple, relaxed Asheville life.

Brian eventually got a job - a couple of them, in fact, including one in which he met a young French woman named
Aurélie, whose American husband was a singer in a band looking for a new keyboardist. Brian's steady gig - playing music with professionals and making real money, not a cut of the door - began thanks to Aurélie. Through the band we met other friends - some who became my closest friends in Asheville, a group of other moms with whom I spend a lot of time, and whose children are wonderful friends of Dora's now. It was a happy accident that they found each other working together, and I will always be thankful to Aurélie for helping us in that way.

GIven all that's happened since we moved here and started mountain biking - friendships made, houses purchased, new family members (both human and animal) - it's not surprising to me, at least, that Brian's old bike represented some significant memories for me. I suddenly felt a twinge of sadness tonight, waiting for some stranger to arrive and take the bike away. I felt some sadness, too, at the thought that I hadn't asked enough for the bike. I was amazed at how many people responded to my post - the bike is terribly damaged from a run-in with a parking garage roof - yet many, many people wanted to buy it.

I went with the first person who responded, out of fairness, although I started getting annoyed with him because he asked SO many questions about the bike. He arrived on time, walking up on the porch and introducing himself, revealing to me the French pronunciation of his name which I had read in his emails as the American name Oliver. I showed him the bike, he gave me the proper amount of cash, and we chatted briefly. I asked where he was from - France. I asked if he lived in Asheville, wanting to introduce he and
Aurélie so they would both know another French person in Asheville. He and his wife live in Greenville, though - he had driven over an hour to buy the bike. I showed him a little tin of French cookies Aurélie had given me recently, we talked a bit about the area she is from.

Chatting with this stranger from a place I have never visited, who speaks a language I unfortunately do not understand, I found that my sadness about selling the bike had dissipated. Instead, I had found myself in a happy accident - selling the bike, probably for less than I should have - to someone who could really use it. He's making it into a bike for his little brother - so I guess the bike is going to France. How exciting for it! It just felt right - somehow paying forward the kindness my husband received from a stranger from a place we've never visited when we first came to Asheville.

One of the great things about being a parent is rediscovering the world with them, through their eyes. Being with Dora reminds me to notice the sky, the last day lily of the season, the kitty in the yard, the sunflowers down the street. Being her mom helps me remember to be on the lookout for these tiny moments of beauty. Being Dora's mom helps me remember to appreciate accidents that yield surprisingly happy results, that remind us of our connections, and how kindness can be returned not just in a direct reciprocation, but by passing it forward as well.


  1. Absolutley beautiful, Carrie. And you have no idea how much I needed that tonight. Thank you!

  2. happy accidents, indeed. this mama needed this post tonite also. always with the reminding...

  3. Thanks to both of you for being such faithful readers and commenters! It helps so much - otherwise I sometimes feel like the only other person reading this is my husband, because I make him do it!

    Love to you both:)