06/22/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Can Fate Sabotage Romance?

Part 2 of a serial, "Sex Love Enlightenment." Previously: After months of putting him off, I met Billy and we had an electrifying connection.

I was hot to hook up with Billy the Bad when a ski wreck blew my plans. For our second date, Billy wanted me to visit him at his place in Lone Tree. "The house is not typical," he said. "It'll show you a lot about me." I was about to leave for a week of skiing with friends at Vail, but said I could stop by Lone Tree on my way home.

The first day on the slopes, conditions were perfect: blue sky, brilliant sun and fresh powder. By afternoon, I was skiing as well as I ever have... I was in the zone... I could handle anything.

I followed a friend down a groomed run and then he swerved right and zipped through some trees. He knew the mountain better than I, so I figured he was taking a short cut to another run. Without stopping or slowing down, I turned the way he had, only to find myself in a patch of big bumps and trees so close together it would be hairy to turn. I saw a groomed slope on the other side of the trees and decided to shoot straight for it. When I came blasting out of the trees, I hit a bump I hadn't seen, flew up in the air and then I'm not sure what happened. There was a blinding pain in my chest and then I was flat on my back with my left knee twisted unnaturally and one ski broken off.

I could not move. I tried to sit up but any movement made me nauseous. Shit, what have I done? A strange man with soft brown eyes was kneeling over me, telling me he'd called the Ski Patrol. "I think you landed on your pole," he said. "May I examine you?"

Who are you?

"I'm a cop and an e.m.t. Can you move your neck?"

I did. No pain there.

"That's good," he said, "and no bones are protruding."


Ten minutes later I was flying down the mountain strapped to a sled, crying out with every jolt. Then I was lifted into a waiting ambulance and driven to the ER, where they took x-rays and said I had a jagged break in my collar bone. They wrapped my shoulder in a figure of eight brace to immobilize it, put a sling on my left arm and told me to see an orthopedist as soon as I got back to Boulder.

But how would I get home? One thing was sure: I wouldn't be stopping by Lone Tree to see Billy. I couldn't drive, and even if one of my friends drove me home, how would I get my car back?

As it happens, I had another man named Bill in my life then, a friend who was 20 years younger. We'd met at a party, gone hiking a few times, and he'd become the kind of treasured person you call when you're in trouble because you know he'll drop everything and come help. I will refer to him as Bill the Good, to distinguish him from the Billy I'd just met, whom I later named Billy the Bad.

When I told Bill the Good about my wreck, he said he would take two buses from Boulder to Vail so he could drive me and my car home. Then I called Billy the Bad, told him I'd broken my collar bone and wouldn't be able to visit as planned.

Bill the Good showed up the next morning and by noon we were at the orthopedist's office. The doctor went over my options: he could operate, put metal screws in the bones to hold them together as they fused and I could be active right away, but he would have to operate again a year later to remove the screws. Or, he said, I could go home, keep the shoulder immobilized, and "there's a good chance it will heal without surgery in about two months." I chose the second option, went home and after taking pain pills, went to sleep.

When I awoke the next day, I considered my predicament. I couldn't lift my arm at all. I couldn't drive, and needed help to get dressed and undressed, to remove and replace the figure 8 brace and to brush or wash my hair.

It's times like this, when you live alone, that you realize the price of not having a spouse or partner and not living near extended family. Your friends love you but they're busy -- with work and their families -- and they have limited time to give you after the first day or two. But Bill the Good stepped in. He offered to stay in my house as long as I needed so he could help me in the morning and at night, drive me to the doctor and shop for supplies.

Relieved, I went back to sleep. When I felt strong enough to get up and check my email and the phone answering machine, there were three calls and a cascade of emails from Billy. He said that after I'd told him about the accident, he'd packed a suitcase and driven to Boulder, gone to the hospital but couldn't find me. He didn't know my address and I wasn't in the phone book, so he'd rented a motel room and called again in the morning. When I didn't answer, he'd driven back to Lone Tree.

To Be Continued...


Please leave a comment. What would you do if suddenly unable to take care of yourself? Do we need to create support systems, especially as we get older, and how do we go about doing that? To Automatically Receive Future Installments, Click here.