When I was 16, before I got my driver’s license, I would bike seven miles each day after school to a gym to work out. The gym had Nautilus equipment, which was relatively new at the time, and so I felt it was worth the long bike ride.

The trip to the gym was mostly uphill, a journey from my small town nestled at the bottom edge of the Watchung Mountains, flood plain territory, to the wealthier towns up in the mountains with the views, mansions, gyms with fancy equipment and no worries about what heavy rainstorms could do to your cellar.

Coming home I could almost coast the entire way. I moved fast, so fast that one afternoon a woman didn’t see me when she made a left turn in my direction. I can still see the scene, her front bumper, shiny and metallic, and knowing I wasn’t going to clear it. She caught my back tire and I went tumbling down the road. When I finally stopped rolling I stood up. I was bleeding from a good-sized cut on my leg and my shoulder ached, but otherwise I was fine. My bike was a mangled wreck, though.

The woman who hit me stopped and gave me a ride home. We put the bike in the back seat, now more a collection of puzzle pieces than a mode of transportation.

I have no recollection of what this woman and I talked about other than giving her directions to my home. We were both shaking and too shocked to talk, both at what had happened and what had not happened. It felt like a miracle to be sitting there bleeding all over her seat covers instead of still lying in the street.

The woman paid for my broken bike and my medical expenses. My parents suggested I use the bicycle money to start saving for a used car — I would turn 17 that spring — but I had a better idea. I wanted to buy a used moped that a friend was selling. I could buy it that week.

My parents said no way.

For reasons that are still unclear to me now I became incredibly angry at their decision. It was my money, I argued, and so who were they to say no. They had no right, I reasoned, in only the way a 16-year-old with no clue about life but so sure of his superiority can.

In my defense I think the fact that blood had been shed on the way to earning that money played a part. My skin was literally in the game.

My parents stood firm. No way, they said. You will hurt yourself. They could not bring themselves to say the word die or death, at least not in my presence, but of course that is what they were afraid of. For some reason this never crossed my mind. I only thought they were being mean to me, when they were really loving me.

I retaliated in a way that still turns my stomach today, makes me look up from this page and stare out at the horizon while I ride the ferry boat back to the Island and wonder how I could have been so cruel. I stopped talking to them for nearly two months.

As clear as that bumper catching my back tire is the image of my mother sitting at my bedside weeping, and yet still I didn’t speak to her.

I must come to my defense once again. Just a few weeks before my bike accident, my older brother Jim left for his freshman year of college. We had shared a room our whole lives. We shared friends, we spent winters afternoons together on the wrestling mat and summers on the Vineyard at each other’s side. Some brothers fight or at least argue. We did neither. I loved my brother with my whole teenage heart and when he left for college I cried myself to sleep at night for a full week.

I like to think this played a part in my silent stance. I was in a state of mourning and lashing out. To think otherwise, that I was just a terrible kid, hurts too much.

In the end it was my brother who stepped in and fixed the situation. He came home for a week around Thanksgiving and in equal parts questioning and firmness he asked me what the hell I was doing and that I needed to get over myself immediately. I did as I was told, thankfully.

My parents and I have never talked about those days, and for a long time it has remained buried in the recesses of my subconscious. But this weekend it resurfaced when I heard about the horrible moped accident on the Island. As my heart went out to the two girls and their parents, I decided to tell my children this story. They are twelve and eight now and looked at me aghast when I described how I treated Grandma and Pawpy. My son Hardy echoed my older brother when he said to me, what the hell where you thinking?

I told them I didn’t really know, even after all these years, but that there was also more to the story, something I never told my parents.

The following year I did get on a moped. It was just before high school graduation, and a buddy and I went for a ride. It was his moped but he let me drive, although I had never been on one before. Within just a few miles we crashed. The front wheel locked on a tight turn and I sailed over the handlebars. My buddy rolled off the back. We were both cut up badly but not seriously hurt. I wore long pants for weeks, even into summer, to hide the scabs from my parents.

I still have the scars and I showed them to my kids, in particular a thick one on my thigh. I wanted that scar to tell them everything about life, from parental love to the flaws of their father.

That scar means a lot to me. When I was younger it reminded me how much my parents loved me and tried to protect me. And now that I am a parent it connects me to the pain of parents everywhere, trying desperately to keep their kids safe but knowing that it is never enough.