Monday, February 28, 2005

Stoner's Experience

It was a great time. It was kind of a tough ride for me--I'm really not in shape for this kind of thing, and I pushed some of the aspects of my condition pretty hard, but I got through with a lot of help from my friends.

I beat my previous personal record for longest ride by a factor of four. It's funny, when I first had the idea to do this, I thought, "Hey, I could borrow one of Todd Allen's recumbents! There's no way I could get through on my main commuter bike, but I could definitely do it that way." And I could, and I did, but that didn't make it easy.

The key moment for me was Sunday morning, waking up at Dave Schlabowske's place. We were all sitting around, grumbling about our exhaustion, dreading the day ahead, and Kristof(sp?) said, "I don't wanna do this." And I thought for a moment, and I said, "You know what, I kinda do."

So I got my ass in gear, fumbling through an unfamiliar morning routine, and I'm in the shower, realizing how badly I wanted to finish this. And how rarely I let desire burn inside me, and how much that costs me. I'm an expert at keeping my distance, avoiding disappointment not by effort but by equivocation.

And how much bullshit fills my life because I don't let myself care enough. The extended holes in my resume, the bullshit jobs, the interminable cost-benefit analysis. The relationships that sort of peter out... "Hey, at least we're still friends." Yeah, right. Too much drift.

And I realized that to get home under my own power, I needed to want it. Cost-benefit analysis said, "Take Amtrak home. You've already accompished a lot. No one will look down on you for stopping now. How sore do you really want to be?"

So I want to repeat Hui Hwa's thanks to everyone. And I have special thanks for Todd Allen--for the loan of your recumbent, for the help and support the whole way. I said it privately, and I'm saying it publicly: you had your shit together, and you kept my shit together, and I couldn't have done it without you.

And the Schlabowske's and Jessica's hospitality. A good night's sleep and a hearty breakfast made a big difference. I'm sure it did for those who stayed with Jessica, too.

I also want to acknowledge Kristof, who started the second day saying he didn't want to finish, but finished anyway, on an ordinary mountain bike. I could not have done it the way he did it, mentally or physically. And Brendan, who kept smoking cigarettes when we took breaks. A one point, he took off on us, and I had to ask, "What was in those cigarettes?"

And I want to thank John Greenfield for organizing this, and giving me a chance to drink deep the cup of desire, and taste victory.


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