I am a mother who has abandoned her child[.]
I take solace in language -- I take refuge, I burrow
I borrow shades of joy from our words -- we may share
I breathe -- in, then out -- the satisfaction of such a wealth of playthings [toys in the attic.]
so mote it be.
Thank you for the words my beautiful friend. You are never anonymous—you’re too lyrical and lovely for that.
Now I’m starting to feel it.
First it was intense anxiety and ridiculous amounts of activity. Then it was a blur of logistics. Now it’s sadness— sweet, aching sadness. Bainbridge Island has been a very holding place. A healing place; a soft landing place. The past three years have been solid and peaceful and safe and I feel tremendous gratitude for that. And now, this moving thing. At first it was abstract— 5 months out, 4 months out, but then it was 6 weeks, 3 weeks and now it’s now. I will miss the beauty and stillness of Bainbridge Island. The kindness and good humor of our friends ‘on this side’ and my Seattle friends as well. The reflection of sailboats on the water in the harbor. Taking the ferry to work. Finding The Bike. It’s all safely in my memory. Northwest, you have been nothing but good to me, and for this, you have my enduring gratitude. Cheers and thanks to this place and its people.
In my spinning class there is a graceful, athletic woman about my age. She’s pretty tough —clearly a gal who works out a heck of a lot. This chick powers through spinning classes throwing off sweat, putting herself into it. She looks like a ballerina; thin and elegant, with dark hair knotted at the nape of her neck. She’s become my acquaintance. After class the other day, we were talking about exercise. She said, “What else do you do to work out?” I said, “I ride my bike. I go to the X-Gym, but mostly I ride my bike.” And she said, “Outside?? You ride your bike outside??” And I said, “Um, sure!” She doesn’t ride outside yet. She’s like an indoor cat no one has let out. So my new friend has started looking for a bike. She’s trying to figure out where to ride it; how to get started. At first, I thought, now that’s silly. How hard is it to ride your bike outside? And then I realized, for a forty-something year old woman who’s probably on her own, who has never done this before, it can’t be that easy. It’s a little complicated. You have to get a bike. You have to get some bike shoes and cleats and work all of that out. How to change a tire. How to take care of your bike. How to program your bike computer. What to do for gloves, helmet, seat, shorts. It goes on. None of it is that hard, but when you’re getting started, I bet it’s formidable. And I applaud her. Today, I’m having a similar experience. I have two bikes. I’ve been riding forever; I’ve had some patient friends who got me up and running and have helped me over the years, so I basically have a handle on it. But generally speaking, I still work this shit out on my own. Now I want a rain bike. I emailed an old friend from Rochester, Dan, and asked him what to get, and if he knows of anything. He said, well, maybe, sure. What size bike are you looking for? And part of me thought, oh God, here we go. I don’t remember what size my bikes are. I don’t even remember how to measure a bike. I went to YouTube, tried to figure it out, sent him some measurements that I hope are accurate and I’m getting started. So really, to ride outside, it’s not entirely simple. Which, I’m sure, is why I see fewer women out there on the road, and why I cheer inside whenever I do.
“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on wheels..the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood”
—Susan B Anthony
What’s the story?
A couple of years ago when I moved up here (Seattle) one of my new friends asked me “So what’s your story?” and I thought, yeesh. That is way too hard to explain. How could I possibly even begin to tell all of these new people what the story is? But now, after a little time, I realize that my story is really not that complicated or unusual. It’s certainly not static.
It’s a huge leap of faith for us to share our stories. It’s a leap of faith to say, I trust you at some level. I know you have experienced glee and peace, that you’ve probably endured some serious shit and that regardless of the particulars, we have a degree of commonality which allows us to extend our hands to one another and offer strength and respect.
So there you go. That’s the story. And here’s another one: Today I woke up feeling a little lost. It’s grey out. I’m going to try to get a little momentum by getting on my bike anyway and cleaning the shit out of my house. I’m waiting for myself to summon up the energy to get really DIY in this miasma of an economy and to dream up some project that is not related to the next new external accomplishment. Wish me some fucking luck.