I woke up today around 8 a.m. when Wifey came in the bedroom to fetch her eye glasses. I assumed she had been by my side all night, but it turns out she fled the room at some point, claiming that it got “too hot” in the bedroom. Since it was roughly -15˚ outside, I doubt that was true and this was most likely her way of telling me that the baked ziti I made for our Valentine’s Day celebration had taken the form of a vile, warm, humid gaseous cloud of digested red wine, garlic and sausage and had exited my flabby rears way too much though the night and had caused her to seek refuge elsewhere. Much apologies to my ginger haired, bosomy Valentine of what is now 20 years. You deserve better…much, much better. But I’m sure you know that already.
Once those brief pangs of guilt left me (as a married man, I am contractually obligated by God to say that I felt guilt for having passed gas too much through the night), I noticed that the bedroom was lit with bright rays of morning sunshine. I once again got all tingly in my aging (not so) sexy bits to ride. Then I remembered the predicted temperatures and the various warnings and threats of bodily harm that the National Weather Service had set upon Michiganderburgh. Sigh…. I rolled over, let forth more of that ziti inspired stench, covered my head with a pillow and fell back into a hard slumber that lasted way too long.
I’m not sure why, but during this second slumber I found myself dreaming of being back in Western PA where I spent my entire life prior to moving to central Michigan four years ago. Like many of my memories, these dreams centered around the riding I did back there. Along with all the other creepy, surreal things that make up dreams, I found myself prepping to go on a road ride in the town where I grew up and my father still lives.
When B-Man was super young, my weekly routine included packing gear, bike and baby up on Sunday mornings and going to visit my father. This gave B’s hard-working mother (and my amazing wife) some time to relax and have a day to herself. It also gave my dad time to hang out with B-Man and me time to ride and take advantage of my hometown’s proximity to miles and miles of hilly farm roads.
My standard Sunday Loop was a sweet 40+ mile loop. I left out the back door of my boyhood home and arrived home around 2.5 hours later covered in sweat with about 1,500 feet of climbing in my legs. No, these road were not the dirt and gravel mountain roads I loved, but they were a painful reminder of how hilly western Pennsylvania can be.
As I awoke from that HEAVY second sleep and saw the sun continuing to peek through the room’s tightly drawn blinds, I found myself planning my ride for the morning. I could feel a half a smile on my face as I tried to decide whether to go straight out Pittsburgh Street as per usual or start the loop differently this time and maybe tack on a few extra miles given all the sun and potential blue sky.
As I came to out of this slumber it hit me: I was no longer in my early thirties, it wasn’t a warm, sunny Sunday morning in Pennsylvania and I wasn’t going to ride paved, hilly farm roads. I was in central Michigan, it’s pretty much flat as a pancake and despite the sun, it was nearly twenty degrees below zero with the wind chill. The worst was realizing that in the past few years I ate and drank myself well beyond that of a clydesdale racer.
With that I let out another heavy sigh and realized that a ride would not be happening. So, I let loose another volley of warm, baked ziti gas, hiked up the blankets, closed my eyes and headed off for another hour or so of sleep. What’s the point? F*ck it, f*ck you, f*ck it all…. Zzzzzzzzzzz…..
Another hour or so of sleep later I woke up to the same sun, but this time with a whole different outlook. This time I was more of a realist and realized that yes, there would be no riding today, but there wouldn’t be any riding if I was back in PA either, as I believe they got more snow than we did the past few days and it’s only about three degrees warmer there. I also recognized that while I don’t have access to my hometown’s hilly paved farm roads, I do have access to miles and miles of lumpy, dirt and gravel farm roads just 3.5 mile from MY backdoor where most of the time, motorized traffic is non-existent.
I also breathed a few sighs of relief that Wifey was lucky enough to find herself a great job here and we now find ourselves in a town that is nearly like where I grew up, but with way more to offer. I realized what I lack in hills I gain in available dirt roads and low traffic pavement. I realized that now when I return from a ride I don’t have to clam up during a family meal as others spout off the lastest Fox News conspiracy theory. Theories that I don’t agree with but am unwilling to rock family boats to defend. I realized that my once infant son that I drug out to his grandfather’s house just turned eleven years old last week. I realized how proud I am of him, of my wife and how happy I am to be living in town so similar to where I grew up but that affords B-Man more opportunities than I ever could have had. The fact that I can’t find work is a continued thorn in the side of my happiness, but we’re getting by just fine and I am here for B and for Wifey as needed. There are way worse things in this world!
Refreshed from sleeping longer than most people my age should and/or do sleep, I got up, headed downstairs and fetched some coffee.
“What do you have planned for the day?” Wifey asked. “Nothing… maybe a ride on the trainer, but probably not. It’s cool.”
I admit, I long to be 32 and 170 pounds again, to be concerned with what race I’m doing and not whether I crash and bleed out from the medication I’m on or not and to have my son be 3 years old again. BUT, if I’m honest with myself, I’m happy here. I’m not homesick, I’m just getting old. Yes, I miss my family, I miss parts of those old routines, but life changes, people move on, change and grow… as well we should.