Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pedaling (and Living) in the Moment, at NIght

At the end of February Bob and I took an unexpected trip to Louisville, Kentucky to visit his parents. Normally, I anticipate the trip home with excitement at the thought of seeing long-time friends with whom I remain close, as well as hanging out in all my old haunts. This trip, however, was one of necessity. My father-in-law's struggle with MS had taken a turn for the worse, and Bob was needed at home to provide emotional support and assist with some family decision making. Despite the circumstances of our journey, it was good to be at home with family. To lighten our mood, Bob and I decided to run the first leg of my beloved Triple Crown of Running Series, and even convinced Bob’s brother, a recent running convert, to join us on the course for his first race. We also watched our oldest niece (and future Olympian?) at a big swim meet held at University of Louisville.

Ron and Bob, pre-5K.
Bob and I at the starting line of the Anthen Classic.
I’m always sad about leaving Louisville, and this time was no exception. Luckily, before returning to Flagstaff we had a day in Phoenix with my cousin (more family!) before heading further west to San Francisco for a long weekend, planned many months ago. While Louisville is certainly not a smaller version of San Francisco, both cities share an abundance of Victorian architecture and the flavor of crumbling elegance, which my transition into the week ahead. The weekend in Fisherman’s Wharf was a wonderful blend of biking, great food, and time spent together with no agenda.

Us on the Golden Gate on the way to Sausalito.
Biking in typical SF weather.
But trips come to an end and return to work we did. I just felt sad and down-in-the-dumps all week, desperately missing my former Louisville routine, not having truly established a satisfying one for myself in Flagstaff. The week lumbered along but Friday finally arrived.  I asked Bob before work if I should meet him downtown that evening after his Master Swim class. We were both biking that day and since the weather was spring-like I thought a bike date was well in order. Yes, he replied. His class would end around 7 p.m. so I would bike down to NAU’s natatorium after dark.

I love night-time pedaling with Bob, but on my ride to meet him, it occurred to me that sometimes biking alone in the quiet evening is just plain good for the mind. I became conscious of how strongly I was pedaling, possibly my legs having been strengthened by biking over the steep, steep hills of San Francisco. I felt light, calm and centered – not, I might add, my usual frame of mind. This, I told myself, must be what it is like to live in the moment. Both my mother and my mother-in-law have suggested that I need to try this sometime. I breathed it in deep, concentrating on the silence, the dark, the light breeze. Soon I would be joining dear husband, whose previous week had been much harder than mine but always selflessly places my happiness above his own.
Me, and the twin Breezers in front of Tinderbox.
Bob exited Wall Natatorium shortly after I, leaning again the bike rack, completed my turn at Words with Friends (in this case, my mother-in-law). I let him to take the lead for the rest of the evening. We end up sharing drinks at the bar of Tinderbox, laughing at the controversies of the day just ended.

Bob and the Himalayan 'tini.
Next, we pedaled over to Milton Avenue and celebrated Bob’s return to the Master Swim class by pedaling over to Himalayan Grill, perhaps our favorite dining spot in Flagstaff. My biking confidence boosted by pedaling without incident on slick streets in San Francisco, why yes, I said, I do want to take the bike lane on Milton Avenue! Once there, Bob and I split Yellow Dal and Chicken Korma with some wheat nan. It doesn’t get any better than that and praised the restaurateur for another superb meal. And yes, we did overhear him say he was soon to be sworn-in as a U.S. citizen!

It's that good!
Gastronomically satisfied, we made our way home. A plastic bag holding the remainder of my Yellow Dal and a slice of nan was securely tied to my handlebar. “How many midlife people do this?” asked the Planner Guy. None, I said, still living in the moment. Just us, I thought, as we pedaled under the stars back to our house, my earlier worries placed, at least temporarily, in a faraway place.