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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Riding to Work

"Strange, what brings these past things
so vividly back to us, sometimes."
Harriet Beecher Stowe


It is my first commute since Lloyd left me. I have to plan my commutes to work as I often need my car for my job, but there have been numerous opportunities.  I just have not taken advantage of them. I know he would have been disappointed in me, but I also know he would have understood. All things in their time and place.

Despite leaving so early, I had not thought I would need a head light, but the sky is cloudy and the fog is as thick as a blanket so I quickly slap one on.  As I leave, there is nobody to tell me to be careful, and I again felt the immensity of my loss.  Yes, I still have people who love and care for me, but not in the same all encompassing way he did.   Everything changes.  I have always struggled with that.  Mary Wollstonecraft wrote, "To have in this uncertain world some stay which cannot be undermined is of the utmost importance."  You, love, were my stay.  And I flounder in these new waters. But I move forward and still you sustain me.  I realize you will always be with me because you became a part of me.

I am surprised when I notice the  yellow sweet clover is in bloom daintily lining the edge of the road.  It just seems too early.  Time has a way of slipping past us wasted if not noticed and appreciated.  I do not recall seeing sweet clover on last week-ends century ride, but perhaps I was busy talking. How very peculiar it is that I notice so many things on a bicycle that I do not notice when in my car. 

I smile thinking of how I would have told Lloyd about what was in bloom when I got home and how he would have bemoaned the fact that there is so little sweet clover now due to the highway department mowing the roadsides.  Like him,  I see little sense in all that mowing unless it is near an intersection.  But for me it is not merely because of the killing of the bee pasture, but because it pleases my eye.  There is a certain beauty in the unkempt, gypsy roadways of the countryside. Grass does not really take well to taming.  There is inevitably the errant rebel blade that is higher than the rest and will not bow to the will of the mower.

The daisies also are also in bloom, and I remember how when we first started our lives together I would gather them from the horse pasture and put them in a vase to bring their cheery brightness into our small mobile home.  I remember the velvety softness of B.J.'s soft horse lips nuzzling me as I walked the field, the moist warmth of his breath tickling my ear, his earthy, horsy smell a tonic. I laugh out loud remembering the look on Lloyd's face the day he unexpectedly came home and I was cleaning sans clothing because I had so little clothing and did not want to soil what little I did have.  We did not yet have our fifteen dollar sale barn washing machine, and dirty clothes also needed to be hauled the the laundromat.  And I always bathe after cleaning. That look was priceless and is still with me. The feel and smell of him.  Every sense engaged. The mattress on the floor because we could not yet afford a bed to put it on.  Youth and love sustained us, a love we were fortunate enough to grow against all  odds. 

I become thankful for the time we had and regret those times we wasted on petty, silly, little fights or disagreements.  As with child rearing, couples should pick battles carefully and be grateful to have a stay in this world. How few have any real meaning down the road. But even in the disagreements, there are memories to be treasured and growth to be had as we find our paths.  I particularly remember telling him one time that it was rather silly, fighting, when each of us knew the other was going nowhere. We made each other a promise.  The lines from a forgotten movie come to mind, " I made a promise.  You're old enough to remember when that meant something."  And it did. Oddly enough, even with him gone it still does.

Rather than lessening, the fog thickens as I crest the big climb that lies between me and my place of employment.  I am surprised at the relative sparseness of cars.  What a difference an hour makes in morning traffic. For just a few moments, it is as if it is just me and my bicycle in this world: no cars, no lights, no people.  The fog conceals whatever animal is making the rustling sound in the woods that side the climb, and I hope that nothing runs in front of my front wheel.  At this speed, unless I fall over the side of the guard rail, I will likely not get hurt.  But I still don't want to fall.  I cannot tell you how much enjoy being able to sleep on my shoulders much of the night without waking up with them aching. Not enough, perhaps, to quit this nonsense that is riding a bicycle and its potential dangers, but enough that I appreciate what I have. 

Traffic picks up as I near the construction area.  I take the middle of the lane to discourage people carelessly passing and not leaving me room.  At least the fog has lessened in this area so the danger lessens. The smell of exhaust begins to claim the air, taking away the morning freshness.  But I realize that I am singing, that I have been singing for quite a while, memories spilling from my mouth into the air and up to heaven, a kind of prayer.   And if you are up there, if there is indeed a heaven, I know you are listening and smiling. I  miss you, love, but I am happy today.  I know you would not begrudge me that, but will rejoice in my happiness.   I am trying to find the woman you once said was "as tough as a hickory nut." Perhaps my bicycle will  help me find her. And there is something about commuting by bicycle that just makes a work day more bearable, particularly on a warm, muggy morning with summer right around the corner. 

After work I head home and really take the long way home.  The ride back does not haunt me with memories the way the ride in did, but it is pleasant.  When you were alive and waiting, I never did this.  There were thoughts to share. I took a back way, but not the long back way.  But you are not there waiting, and while I regret that with all my heart there is a certain freedom now that I don't know that I have ever possessed before.  It is going to take some getting used to, but it may bring joy, this unexplored path.  The only way I know to find out is to ride it and see what happens. Not that I would not change things back if I could, but I can't.  And I am alive and may have years of being alive ahead of me, years that are a gift so long as I have my health, my memories,  my children, my friends, and my bicycle.  Hopefully I can hold on to that so I don't wake up one day and realize it is gone because you can't get those moments back.  You can only remember them. 






1 comment:

  1. Today the sweet clover is gone, mowed down by the highway department;-( Glad I got to see it.

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