It’s been a little over two weeks since my unfortunate mountain biking experience, and I’ve mostly healed. The swelling around my eye went down after a few days; the muscle strains lasted about a week. A few days after that the scrapes and cuts were healed enough to not need bandages, and now the bruises have faded to mere shadows–various blotches and rings of faded red and brown and phlegmy yellow on my cheek and legs and arms and chest. (For those of you not grossed out by blood, bruises, oily skin, or sleep creases, there’s a collection of photos showing the progression of my face over the last two weeks here.)
Having a black eye has given me the chance to do a lot of experimenting with makeup. I’ve used green concealer, yellow concealer, lilac eye shadow applied as concealer, and several different shades and formulations of skintone concealer, selecting which ones to layer on based on what color or colors my face was on that particular day. (Today the only thing I added to my normal routine was putting a little of the lilac eyeshadow over the last bit of bruise before I did the rest of my face, because that lightens it up quite nicely.) On one of the days that my left eyelid was yellow and purple, I made up the right one to match, thinking that might balance things out. Because some hint of the bruise showed through no matter what I did, I wore my glasses every day until this past weekend, since the frames served as another layer of concealment.
Still, people noticed. The first two coworkers I passed in the hall the day I debuted my new look obviously noticed–I saw their eyes dart to the bruise and the bandage–but they didn’t mention it, just greeted me as usual. The first person to say something jokingly asked if I’d been in a bar fight over the weekend. He knew I hadn’t, but that gave me an opening to share the real story. I was hoping it would spread, but by midday I was still getting furtive looks from people so when I sent out an e-mail to everyone with notice of my upcoming vacations (standard practice at Purple Systems) I added a note about what happened to my face. Almost immediately, I got a response saying “thanks for the explanation; I noticed and was concerned but afraid to ask”. Afraid to ask? Because there might be a sad tale involved and then she’d feel obligated to help? I’m not sure.
People I didn’t know seemed more comfortable asking about it. My favorite reaction–which you have already heard about if you’ve seen me in real life recently–was the woman who inquired what had happened and after I told her I’d gone mountain biking with my husband and wasn’t very good at it, asked in a shocked tone, “So he hit you?” Um, no. It’s a little scary, actually, that she even thought of that. I don’t know what I would have done if she’d followed up by telling me that her husband would have hit her in that situation. She didn’t, so I took my boxes of high-tech bandages up to the register and checked out.
I’m still not sure when I might try mountain biking again. Maybe later in the fall, when I can wear long pants and long sleeves to cover any more bruises and scrapes I might get. I think I’ll at least wait until it doesn’t hurt when I tap on my cheekbone. I’m also hoping the little grooves left by the cuts in my face above and below my eyebrow will fill in a little more, but I can always spackle those with makeup if I have to.
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