Post 504: ‘Go outside’

I called Nick because I’d had a frustrating afternoon.

The morning started out fine – I decided to work from home when I noticed I didn’t have any in-person meetings. I chugged along, answering emails, swapping the laundry and folding mounds of clothing. 

He spent the morning washing his bikes, checking his email, and stretching before going in for a later shift. 

After a quick visit to the local bike shop together in the name of work/life balance, I returned to my email. Because that’s sometimes all I do: answer email. 

I never made it up to my spare-bedroom office after folding all the laundry and stacking it in neat piles around the living room. I sat, holed up on the couch, scrunched, answering email. And, to be honest, I got totally lost in it. Absorbed, even. Touched by the urgency of each notification, I barely ate, drank water, or looked away from the screen. 

I fired off responses one by one, accepting some new assignments as they came in and skirting around others in politically savvy ways. 

Then there was one that made me want to throw my computer across the room. Then, shortly afterward, another. 

I often receive compliments on my work/life balance philosophy and the way I approach high-pressure situations. So it’s a good thing nobody could see my face beam like a stoplight and feel my pulse quicken, knuckles cracking in-between audible expletives. 

I called Nick because I’d had a frustrating afternoon.

He listened patiently and said the two words I needed to hear: “go outside.”

“Get on your bike,” he said, “and go for a ride, even if it’s just around town. You’ve been scrunched up on the couch all day and need to get away.”

I knew he was right. 

I shut my computer down at around 5:45 and prepped my gravel bike, Winifred, for a quick adventure. 

Down the hill and up another, the seasonal gravel road I chose for a 2.5-mile climb enveloped me in its tree-lined magical healing powers. I traversed puddle-ridden pathways and areas with more stream than road. I stopped thinking about work with each pedal rotation, splashing through puddles and picking lines to avoid large rocks.

After the first climb, I faced another – this one more daunting at 12.7% grade than I remember it being last year. 

But I did it. And I forgot about everything I was pissed about by the time I reached the epic downhill back to town.

My brain had switched channels to far more important things, like ice cream and what I wanted for dinner, instead.

There’s a massive hill hiding behind those trees, I swear.

Back to pre-teen summer days

Did I mention that I’m falling in love with the area?

I can’t wait to buy a knapsack, fill it with my camera(s), phone, poetry journal and a book or two and spend the day on my bike.

It’s the first time in my life that I’ve been able to set out on my bike and actually get somewhere. The “booming” downtown area is about three miles away from where I grew up and my Huffy and I didn’t always want to brave the hills. Heading downtown is easy; it’s coming back up the hill near the prison that burns.

I opted for the local library, instead. With my little black knapsack on my back, I used to cruise down Richardson Hill, ride up Ames Hill and latch my bike onto the rack in front of the local library. Then, laden with books, I’d cruise down Ames and inch up Richardson, little by little. While I’d be breathless at the top, at least I had the day’s catch on my back, ready to be devoured.

Exploring this area reminds me of those carefree, independent summer days during my pre-teens. I seem to have broken the need to constantly require companionship. Sometimes I’d just rather be alone and have adventures on my own.

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