Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Random + Perspective

1.  These past few months I became intimately familiar with my right gastrocnemius muscle, when one afternoon, just after bragging about the stellar state of my fitness for that time of year, I tore the sucker. I chose not to blog about the spectacular face plant I did after the onset of the tear, the subsequent months of physical therapy, missed races and missed training beer rides because nobody likes a cry baby.  But now the sucker is on the mend and I am back in the saddle (suffering, woah nelly).  Starting training over in late June kinda sucks no matter what you are training for, even though I am well aware it could have been way worse AND I am not someone whose financial well being relies on one's fitness.


2. A couple of weeks ago I dropped my kid off at his dad's for a six week summer visitation. Like every other year prior to the onset of said visitation, my kid cried for weeks prior, had nightmares, anxiety attacks and "anger episodes." And, like thousands of other parents out there, I stuck him on a plane anyway. Watching your kid go through this day after day, for the record, sucks donkey poop.

I am, thank the maker, allowed to visit my kid two of the weekends he is there, talk to him twice a week, and I bring him home after the visit is complete...so this means, three of those six weekends I am flying around to see/find him.


3.  So. Now that we've gotten THAT out of the way, allow me to say this:  while people's intentions are generally, I believe, overall insanely good, I find it wildly entertaining that the two things they most frequently say when they learn that my kid is gone for six weeks are (and yes, they are
always said with an exclamation! point! at! the! end! for! special! happy! two-dimple-smiley! emphasis!!!):

A.
"You should be able to refresh!" 
B.
"I bet that will give you plenty of time to get your house nice and clean!"


Each and every time someone offers one of these responses I stare at them blankly for a moment before gathering my composure and spewing forth some
bullshit kindly response. 

Refresh?  What? My savings account, only to notice that it is now empty of all funds? My fictitious supply anxiety medication? My drink?  

Seriously? 
Seriously. So there's that. 


And then there's "B"...to which I can only offer the truth: my house looks worse at this moment than it did at any point in college. 

You see, I am not particularly motivated to spend countless hours at home (nor am I motivated to spend
any non sleeping hours there, for that matter).  It is not exactly a bundle of fresh cut flowers coming home to eerie quiet, the kid's nut cup and baseball gear still strewn by the back door, his now rotted carton of milk in the fridge, his big empty bed, or the dog crawling up there, sniffing for him and then throwing herself in a heap on his pillow and crying. ...all constant reminders of that which was not finished, a thousand things he'll learn and say and do there that I will miss, only to have him return home and act like a turd for a month while he "decompresses." 


It just ain't where I wanna be, okay? 


4.  On a personal note...I have these friends. These friends who are single, or newly married, or with very young babies, all of whom I never see because their children's or their lives no longer coalesce with the vibrations of my own my kid's when every night I am ass-planted in a lawn chair, or throwing extra B.P., or trying to get his new ball to bounce over the top of our house, or driving my kid around to practices, or driving home to pick up that which he forgot like some kind of crazed mad woman, or making some half baked meal, or insisting 57 times that he shower, or laundering his skid-stained underpants... and my god it's 11 already, we
MUST go.to.bed. 


So.
These precious few weeknights, this time, it is much more judicious of me to spend it trying like hell to catch up with these friends I used to have and love so dearly than it is to clean my god damned house. It's also kind of fun to live like a slob again.  So let's not remind me of it, okay? 


Phew! That was a very windy (and therapeutic) way of saying, don't say A. or B. 


Say this:
"That blows, want to go ride bikes + get a drink?"

5. Since the year my kid began making this westward trek each summer, during the final week of his absence, I ride 
RAGBRAI. There could be documentaries shot and books written solely about the adventure and journey to, and then the week that is Ragbrai

Suffice it to say, 
for each of the 10,000+ of us on the road each year, my story is unique, only in that it is mine. We've all got one....and what brings us all there mostly though is the common intrinsic understanding, that there has been, or will likely be at some point, a radical, unexpected internal seismic shift that occurred or will occur in each of us while pedaling.

There have been, to be sure, MANY different instances where I have quite literally 'found myself' pedaling. There have also been plenty of times when I've been up shit creek without a map or a paddle and half in the bag, but those are stories for other days because there are children and proper people that read this blog and those stories are not G-rated and they all implicate
Chew someone. 


Every year T leaves, the process to/during/after
 the visitation is so overwhelming for him, by the time he leaves, I am so exhausted I can barely function. But every moment I want to curl up fetal, cry, retreat to a dark closet, sleep for days on end, or am overcome with anxiety that feels like a vice grip on my heart, instead... I pedal. 
  
My first seismic shift came years ago in the training, pedaling for hours on end; forcing myself into efforts that required breathing harder than I ever knew possible.  
I quickly learned that the exertion and effort of turning the pedals can readily mask any other pain, distress, anger or anything on my mind.  

Years and thousands of miles later, I learned that the monotony and simplicity of turning pedals strangely also allows
 forgiveness, healing and then a complete calm to creep in...and then even more miles under my belt, riding with this family on wheels I've found: ...the keeled over until you almost fall off your bike, bubbling up still hours, days, years after the fact: laughter.

RAGBRAI, I like to think, is merely placed somewhere on the journey for emphasis, a huge and necessary set of exclamation points to celebrate the adventure of us all getting ourselves there, skidding in each year, however, and wherever we might be....laughing and dancing and drinking and pedaling regardless..


6. ...in 18 days... and then we all go back to our respective journeys, inevitably after all that pedaling, laughing, thinking whatever
'it' was, 
all of it, could have been worse. So much worse.   

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