Thursday, April 01, 2010

Love remembered, it begins . . .

Almost two years ago I moved to Ohio in self defense. It was what I could afford, and what I could handle. Not ideal, but better than any of the alternatives. Shortly after moving here I needed to find a replacement for my park in Denver. Denver has an amazing park system, and Washington Park may not be it's crown jewel, but it's a place I adore and had my heart set on once again spending time in when I got home. Forces well outside my control conspired to force me to wait on moving home. Probably the only one more crushed that I didn't get back to Colorado is my sister Pam. She's STILL angry with me for not going home. But that's not why I'm here.

So, I'm in Ohio, and know nothing about the area other than the fact that it's going to be home for a while. I did what any half way intelligent 21st century woman would do and went out to the internet for someplace like my park here in Ohio. It had to be relatively safe, quiet, scenic, have a lake, trees, grass, places to have a picnic, and a trail around the lake to enjoy walking upon. Winton Woods fit the bill nicely. Mind you this included looking at satellite photos, terrain maps, and of course the park systems website.

So once slightly settled in, I went to the park to do some exploring. Walking around the lake I'm soaking in the sights, sounds and smells of this new area. I am an unabashed sensualist. Walking in a park for me is all about all the little things. I am also a survivor of horrific violence at the hands of other people. Part of that is PTSD, which includes "Hyper Vigilance" a fancy way of saying I notice everything and react to it as a potential threat with a defective fight or flight mechanism. Marry those two conflicting drives, and it can make life interesting to say the least. Friends marvel at my ability to hear cars coming as we are walking around the neighborhood before they can be seen, or the ability to smell a restaurant from two miles away making something I want to try. They don't understand why when a car backfires I dive for cover and turn ghost white. It's a blessing, it's a curse.

Anyway, I'm walking in Winton Woods and there is this unmistakable sound behind me, and then a cascade of feelings and emotions before I can think to turn around. The sound is getting closer and I stop dead in my tracks KNOWING what is coming. Awash in a torrent of memory and emotion that for a change isn't horrific, the source of the sound reaches me and then goes flying past. A person on a bike, cycling around the lake. And my already green eyes, turn a darker shade of green that is both envy and longing at once. And that's when I know, that should be me. I should be mounted up, the wind in my hair, the world flying past, my legs pumping, blood coursing as I'm free once again and soaring along on two wheels.

And just like that the fuse is lit! Ten short minutes later that same person on a bike goes flying by ... AGAIN. In the time I've walked two tenths of a mile lost in longing and memory, they've made it around the lake, the entire 1.7 miles. Me, I'm still stuck there on the ground, plodding along. Ten minutes later, swoosh! And then I'm done for, the wheels in my mind, the longing in my heart starts gently pushing me. "That could be YOU! You KNOW how good that feels, what happened to you that you got off that bike years ago and never got back on? You need that!"

So I started looking and yet not. In Target I avoid the part of the store where they have the bikes because I can't afford to pay attention, let alone pay for a bike. From my heart and mind: "Yeah, SO?"

But I have to save to get everything out of storage and then I'll have a little bit of money to get a bike.

"Yeah, SO?!?!?"

But I have to prioritize, I have to budget, I have to survive, I . . .

"YEAH SO?!?!?"

Doctor tells me I need to get more exercise, weight is to high, BP is too high, deal with it child or your gonna die. Suddenly I HATE walking around the lake. HATE IT!!! Grr, HATES IT FOREVER!!!

Because it's not flying.

I walk a lap now and again as the cyclist flies past me and my heart and mind simply say "Yeah, so?"

I start walking past the bikes in Target, start looking online. Start trying to figure out how I can manage this. I need to get back on a bike. I need that feeling. My mind conspiring with my heart adds that cycling is dramatically more efficient than walking in terms of both weight loss and BP. Walking is like paying the minimum balance on your credit card. It'll take fifty years to pay it off if ever. Cycling is like paying four times the minimum due. Much better the mind says, and the heart? "Come on you KNOW how much you love it, you know how it feels, you know you want and need it."


In the store a perfect Purple bike, and room on the card. It's just under a hundred dollars, brand new and PURPLE! Oh God it's perfect. I'm in love. I almost fall. Almost.

I go home and look it up on line. Not so good are the reviews, if your going to go cheap like this, get a used bike on Craigslist you'll be better off. The reviews are not good. "I know, but it's PURPLE!!!"

More time and the beast inside quietly grows hungrier waiting there for the moment to pounce. And the cyclists fly past me, taunting me, I make one lap for every ten they make. I get frustrated every time and leave after a single lap.

Meds for BP, frustration with not being able to lose weight and the dawning realization that I need both hands to get up off the floor. Very not good. And of course that little whisper "You could go to the Y and ride one of those bikes that goes nowhere with all those OTHER people packed in going nowhere."

I go once. Maintain a good rate of speed and cover miles and miles over simulated terrain. "See girl, you still have it! You could do the same thing in the park you know..."

"FRAK! Shut up, shut up, shut up, enough already!"

"Yeah so?"

I don't go back. Too much noise, to many other people to close, no easy escape routes, I'm pinned in and not going back, you can't make me. So that's that for the Y.

And my heart, awakened from it's long slumber pines, while my head taunts me.

And so it goes.

A hint of spring, a taste of the warming and sun to come and I'm in the park, hungry after a winter of record snows. And the cyclist goes past. Swoosh...

And I know.

It's an investment in my health, my happiness, it's therapy, it's healing, it's fun! Another spring, summer and fall of longing, waste, and further loss of muscle tone OR investing in a bike.

I start to look in earnest. I find bike shops, I actually go to them explore to see how they feel, how the people seem, I ask questions, I do research online and I settle on a bike because of it's name and because it's something I can just barely finagle in terms of my resources but it's going to be tight. It's the Giant Women's Boulder. It reminds me of home. But it's silver. I do more research, a few dollars more, I can get the Myka. It costs more because it's not the absolute bottom of the line, it's a better bike the salesman says. The reviews online agree. It's also not just a woman's bike because of top tube height and name, it's designed by people who put some thought into it. Suddenly the name is much less important. "We have a sale coming up, come then and the Myka will be cheaper" the salesman tells me. Two more trips to ask questions, get fit for the bike and figure out how I'm going to pay for this and I know, this spring, summer and fall is going to be very different than the last two and more.

My heart and mind aren't even bothering to be subtle anymore and the need to feed fills my soul. I need to fly. I need to FEEL that tire noise in my body, the wind in my hair on my skin. I NEED to be flying. I need that piece of me back. I need that part of my soul back. It's going to happen, and this time, I'm not getting off the bike again for anything or anyone.

And that's the really short version of wanting to be back on a bike again. I loved being on a bike, it was freedom, it was a drug for me all those years ago. It was, is, and ever shall be my first true love, and I too long a slumber now remember. The sleeper has awakened! The Love remembered, and the journey begins a new . . .


Debbie K said...

Dear Samantha
You have been thro so much. My heart goes out to you. Our own fear can be the worst prison of all. Life is too short and we have to live for each day as it can change so quickly. This was a beautiful posting, thank you for sharing your innermost thoughts with us.

I hope you love your new bike and your new path brings you to the happiness you deserve.
Debbie x
PS I have never been able to ride a bike properly partly because my parents were afraid for my safety when I was a child. Thanks to your inspiring words, its perhaps time I gave it another try.

Samantha said...

We've both been through so much. Actually pretty much everyone who wanders through here has, but we are survivors and we are strong. And we are getting stronger.

Thank you so much for your kind and welcome words. Brought a smile to my face and my heart.

No worries, I do love my new bike, and I'm thrilled with it. I should have done this years ago. But I wasn't allowed to either. But I'm back riding now, and getting my legs and body back.

I'd say yeah, take it slow and easy, give yourself time to get used to it, to build confidence and strength. No race to do anything, just take your time and you'll be fine. So yeah, give yourself permission to give it another try. You might be amazed at what you can dfo and how much you'll enjoy it.