It’s not about the bike.
Today I went for a bike ride alone for the first time since Froggy was born. I thought I would be tired. I thought I would be sore, that my body would have forgotten how to pump, how to move with a machine, to take corners and switch gears, to prepare for hills and headwind.
But I wasn’t. I wasn’t tired. I wasn’t sore.
The wind was pushing me back, and I considered turning around. I thought -- oh Froggy will be home soon, maybe I should get meds ready, maybe I should clean the bathroom or do my invoicing, maybe I’ll be sore tomorrow, maybe someone is trying to call and I left my phone at home, maybe I don’t want to be reached, maybe I left my cell and credit card, my backpack, my everything at home because I need this. Maybe I should trust the world to go on without me, at least for one bike ride.
Riding by the wetlands I watched the cranes and pelicans dip their long, resplendent beaks into the water, and heard the breathy song of wind in dry grass. I rode past the marina where the harbor meets sea. I watched a man pull a fish out of the water and children digging deep holes in the sand. I watched them jump in and jump out. I watched how there was nothing more important in the world to them than repeating this glorious ritual of digging, jumping and filling a hole with water. I watched how there was no purpose, no goal, just sand.
My bike is fourteen years old. I bought it in college, and now the seat is falling apart, held together with yellowed packing tape. The brakes squeak, and the gears shift, but only when they want to. I didn’t care. I didn’t care, as bicyclists whirled by in their tight gear and custom water bottles, I didn’t care that I was wearing my sweats that double as pajamas, my blue monkey socks and dusty helmet. My frumpy sneakers don’t click into the pedals and rust has painted crimson over the shiny silver handlebars. I watched the girls on beach cruisers sporting skimpy bikinis and giggled at the thought of what my out of shape mom butt would look like on a bike. I knew I wouldn’t be bragging later on Facebook that I rode 150 miles up hill. Because it was only a few miles and mostly flat. I was passed a lot, passed a few people myself (they were elderly and walking, but still) and there were a few times when the seat felt more like a torture device than a place to sit.
It wasn’t about the bike. It was about being alone. Being a part of the world not as a mom or wife, or someone’s something, not there to do or clean or mend. Just breathing and moving, watching the tide go out and come back in, pumping my legs into the wind and feeling for the first time in a long while, that nothing can hold me back.