This image has been sitting on my camera roll since January 26, 2020. I was sitting in the airport when I popped open my phone to read the news, and this is what I was presented with ~ two stories perfectly woven together in a symphony of scrumtrulescence.
Have you ever read a more inspiring string of words than “shoveled the lamington into her mouth with no restraint”?
See? Now, THIS is the level of writing that I aspire to! Pure mastery.
Looking back at my youth, like many of you, I carried the knowledge that anything I dreamed up could be achieved. I gave little consideration to planning how I would do something. Instead, an idea would spring into my mind and I went about making it happen. My child-mind was open to endless possibilities. Actually, scratch that. It was fixed on doing and not what-if-ing things into oblivion.
As a kid, if I wanted to ride White Thunder, the fastest horse in all the land, then dammit, I rode White Thunder! Even if no one else could actually see me doing it. And as far as my building of houses, racing cars, or running a “fishing shop” (weird, right?) – to a grown-up the end results might have looked like a heap of garbage, but not to me. No, my child-eyes weren’t yet poisoned by smothering expectations and the lack of imagination possessed by adults.
Where I grew up, the neighborhood perimeter was almost entirely fenced off. There were two designated entry points and a central loop road lined with bungalows. Now as an adult, I suspect that perimeter fence was in place not so much to keep anyone from coming into our ‘hood, but rather to protect the world at large from the dregs seeping out. The community was largely a haven for drunks, wife-beaters, brawlers, druggies, and creeps.
Beyond the fence ran a major artery lined with stores and small shops. Near the eastern entrance was an appliance store called Trader Horn. Think of it as a PC Richard’s-type place.
Because I was small of body but large on dumbness, a gap in the fence behind Trader Horn gave me a shimmy-through access to the outside world. Why didn’t I just walk out of the neighborhood on the roadway? Because squeezing through a metal fence and jumping off a 5-foot concrete wall was safer than walking on the road. Being around moving cars was dangerous.
Instead, the Trader Horn gap was an escape hatch that would spit me out into the safety of a parking lot. And… I could see their trash from there. Those idiots used to throw away perfectly good appliance boxes.
In the world of the cardboard kingdom, sure dishwasher and washing machine boxes were alright, but finding a refrigerator box? Well, now that, my friends, was the holy grail. When I spied one of those, I’d squeeze through the fence, jump off the wall and drag it back to my house – via the road – which was apparently never dangerous in that scenario. Obviously, the box would protect me from an out of control Plymouth Valiant.
In hindsight, I’m sure that I looked like a tiny hobo dragging those big heavy boxes with my first-grade hands. The cardboard would be slick and slippery and hard to keep a hold of, causing me to stop and reaffirm my grip. :::scraaaaaape::bump:bump::scraaaaaape:: as I dragged my treasure home to set up a house in the broken blacktop and dust patch we called the front yard.
As a kid, I pretty much had the freedom to roam and do as I pleased with little supervision. That was the life of a kid in the 70’s and 80’s. So lugging a giant box home, taking a sharp knife out of the kitchen drawer and cutting windows into my new cardboard castle was never challenged. Chances are good, I probably ran out of the house with said knife in hand raring to begin sawing away. Things are different now. My daughter is graduating high school this year and I still ask her if she wants mommy to cut her steak for her. (No, not really.)
Here I am now at the midway point of my 40’s. Gone is the unfettered imagination and fearless pursuit of my whims. My can-do was replaced with what should I do? My dreams are small. And, I waved so long to the ability to function without fear of being judged or observed or criticized long ago. No longer am I a queen of my castle. Instead, I play the fool.
Last week I took a trip to Maine. It was the first vacation in some time where I gave myself permission to be stationary and to relax my mind. Often I need a vacation following my vacation because I’m always going-going-going. That probably has something to do with the ever-nagging fear of missing out on something. What that something is, is completely abstract and unknown… BUT IT COULD HAPPEN! That silly compulsion drives me to keep moving when I should probably stop and savor some of what has already taken place. Being a maniac has its drawbacks.
This vacation-time around I tried to reason with myself. The plan was to fully embrace the notion that to be effective and productive, to be a better version of myself, sometimes I just need to recharge my batteries. So, that’s what I would do. Does that sound ridiculously obvious? Are you thinking, “duh! Of course you do!” Well, sometimes it’s the simple things that I overlook.
And so my relaxy vacation started with staring out the window of a boat. I stood leaned up against the passenger door of my car sharing a muffin with my dog, kid snoozing in the front seat, and the wind dizzying up my hair into a whirling tornado of curls. It felt simple, glorious and wild.
Leaning back and away from the sill of the window it struck me that some of the most beautiful things are surrounded by the ugly, the rusting and the pockmarked. But if you focus on what is at the heart of it all, if you keep your eyes steady and straight ahead, the ugliness falls away leaving you with something lovely.
While I stood there gazing – the clouds looked so low, so fluffy, and so three dimension-y. It was as if they were part of a theater set hanging on strings. If I reached far enough out the window, I’m sure I could’ve cut one of them free and the white puff of cotton would’ve fallen into the water and floated away. But I decided it was best to leave them where they were for the next person to enjoy.
All winter long I’ve been wrapped up doing other things with my free time that don’t involve motorcycles. I did manage to squeeze in a ride on the Tiger a few weekends ago but since then – I’ve been doing a different sort of 2-wheeled riding.
Right after Christmas I got myself a Surly Pug Ops fatbike. I’d seen some photos of bikes cruising the beach and riding in the snow and thought – Damn, I wanna do that! Being that I live on a island, beaches are easy to come by.
Now, I’m not knowledgeable at all about bicycles. I know where my feet go, where my hands go and that I like the way that I feel when I ride them but that’s about it.
So far, it seems that’s all I need to know right now.
I have a couple friends who are very much into cycling. They ride road bikes, mountain bikes, fatbikes, and motorbikes. They’ve been nice enough to invite me along on their bike rides.
I’ve been out pedaling in the snow with my friend Catfish. He’s got a super 4.8″ fat-tired Surly Moonlander.
For St. Fatty’s Day, I went on my first group ride at the beach:
I’d read about the St. Fatty’s Day ride on a fatbike Facebook group, where I don’t actually known anyone. Being socially awkward and weird, I tend to immediately assume everyone will hate me so I don’t often go out to meet big groups. I wavered on whether or not I should attend. I’m so happy I did. It was a great ride.
In a throwback to what it was like meeting new people to ride with when I first started riding motorcycles, I had no idea what the ride etiquette was or if there was any would be. Do people expect to ride together? Do you need to ‘keep up’? Do you just ride your own ride?
Maybe it’s different for road biking but as soon as we hit the sand, the group naturally sorted itself by ability. I rode alone for a little while and then fell in with 2 other fatbike riders who were moving at my comfortable pace. We chit-chatted and took in the sights at Robert Moses Beach out to Democratic Point. What an awesome day.
And, now I know. It’s the same old story – Ride your own ride.
I’ve also been spending time riding with my friend George. He ride a Charge Cooker and is gung ho to do just about anything. We’ve been putting in some long hours in the saddle checking out the shoreline.
Chubbleton has been making it easy for me to get to places I might not be inclined to walk to. Let’s face it, riding a bicycle is waaaaay more fun than walking.