A few months ago my favorite aunts gave me a bicycle. It was back when I was working out every day and I was so excited to add another activity workout regime. It was the middle of June though, and in Texas, that means it’s way too hot to ride a bike if you have another form of transportation available.
As the weeks went on, my workouts slowed and I forgot about my big plans to start riding my bike to work. I put off buying the helmet, basket, and bright orange construction tape that I was once so excited about. I’ve barely had the energy to exercise, much less leave the house after work unless I was headed up to Racetrack to buy more wine. I would have completely forgotten about the bike altogether if my dad hadn’t asked me about it this past weekend.
“Have you been riding your bike now that the weather is beautiful?” he asked, trying to remind me of things that make me happy. He has spent the last few weeks attempting to get me excited about life. Everyone has.
I made up an excuse about being worried that the handle bars weren’t on tight, and how I hadn’t had the funds to purchase a helmet and that I didn’t want to die riding without one. Without wasting a second, he pulled into the nearest Walmart to buy tools. After choosing a wrench thingamajiggy he lead me over to the cycling section, where I picked out a child’s helmet and a lock. I decided to forgo the bright orange vest for the time being, but I did find a set of lights I liked.
When we got home my dad fixed my bike and I feigned an excited voice, telling him I would ride to work on Monday. The truth is, the prospect of actually riding a bike on the streets frightened the hell out of me. It’s true, I’ve been taking spin class for the last three and I know how to lift my butt on and off of the seat like the best of them, but I hadn’t been on a real life bike in years. In fact, the last time I got on a bike was for a sappy segment of an audition tape I made for The Biggest Loser in 2006. I didn’t ride it for more than a few yards, but I do recall that the second I put my formerly 250-pound-self on a bike, I was certain that I would fall.
Later that afternoon, after my dad left- I decided to give it a try. After all, even if I did crash into a street sign and get run over by drunk motorcycle gang, I wouldn’t be losing much.
I felt awkward before I even started peddling. The helmet I got was a little too small and fit awkwardly on my head. I could feel the strap causing me to have a double chin, but still I kept on.
At first I was wobbly and unsure of myself. I kept one foot down so I could catch myself if I started to fall. I had never ridden a bike that didn’t have a pedal brake, so I took some time testing out the brake on the handlebars. I made my way slowly down the street stopping every few feet to steady myself. At some point before it was time to turn a corner, I realized that I was finally moving. I pedaled faster and faster and slowed only to turn. I felt like a kid as the wind whipped across my face and made me laugh. It was as easy as everyone said it would be, once I got back on.
And now prepare yourself, because I’m about to hand you a ginormous platter of cheese.
For some time after my bike ride, I sat on my porch in solitude. I thought about the events of the last month and how it has felt like it will never get easier. I thought about all of the wonderful people I have in my life and even the people who I don’t even know in real life that have reached out to me offering support. I pondered all of the tiny events, decisions, and catastrophies that have molded themselves to be the life that I have now.
I don’t know if the clarity came from being sober from alcohol for over 2 weeks or from the pot that I had smoked earlier that afternoon, but all of a sudden it hit me. Riding that bike was a metaphor for what I need to do next in my life.
If life is a mode of transportation, then I’ve spent the last 4 years riding shot-gun, speeding down the highway with a drunk as driver. I haven’t worried about where I was going or how I was going to get there. I haven’t noticed the beauty that I’ve passed along the way… I haven’t even noticed the warning signs. But now I want out.
No no, I’m not being that dramatic. I’m still metaphor-ing here. What I mean is that I want to get moving again, I just need a new form of transportation. I need something that is a little healthier… a little slower perhaps. Something that’s dependable, though it might take a little more work. Something that I am in control of. I might be a little uneasy at first, but once I start moving, I’ll learn to enjoy it.
You might be wondering about my big decision. It took me over two weeks to finally decide what to do, and I doubt I’ll ever be content with my decision. I decided to go with what made the most sense to me in my life right now.
Since we’re speaking in metaphors, I took the road that had the fewer uncertainties, except that it is certain to be paved (at least partially) with regret.
I don’t think I’ll be talking about this much, because right now it hurts to even think about. It’s always going to be there though. Thank you all for all of your kind words. In the next few days I hope to be back to blogging about the lesser assholes of my life.