laugh at your thoughts
Left or right? Slow or fast? Do you want to see the ocean again? Do you feel like riding the highway or snaking your way on smaller roads? Why not? What matters to you? Each moment is a question. Evaluating my needs. Determining if I had any interest. Do I give a shit about so and so sight to see or street to be on? Each aspect of my day was analyzed and determined only after careful pondering. Makes you not want to give a shit about anything again, just to keep from having to make another decision. My big decision on this day was if I wanted to ride out to the ocean or take the direct route up the highway.
I spent the better part of an hour on that question. "Go the fuck to the ocean, go straight, no one gives a shit, do what you want!" Ah, the eternal response to end all conversations, the illustrious "no one gives a fuck." I realized I didn't even give a fuck, so I headed towards the ocean. It was a deliberate detachment from self control. I am a participant to this life, not an owner. I don't own my past, present, or future. Deciding the way in which I went wasn't even my decision to make. I only ever had one way to go, and it was only a matter of my realizing it.
Are you still with me at this point? Hard to follow, isn't it? I just wanted to give you a brief taste of the air I was breathing as I pedaled my way towards Atascadero - on the 6th day of my solo bike tour up the coast. I then remember starting to feel like I was having fun.
Give up the control, and every silly, unpredictable moment can be hilarious. Take in every bumper sticker, every house, lawn decoration, power line, bird, person and you'll never be bored. Laugh at your thoughts, no one gives a fuck.
Pulling into Morro Bay, I stopped for a grape Gatorade, and rode down the hill towards the water. My brakes were screaming on the way down, as they had been for days. I started looking around for any bike shop that may have been nearby. CLOSED. Next door to the shop was an ice cream parlor, and seated outside was an older woman. "It's closed!"
I told her my brakes were making all kinds of noise, and she became concerned, as she described the big hill I needed to climb to get to Atascadero. "I'll see if I can't call Mike. He may be able to come down to help you with your brakes. I've been here for years, I have his number" she said as she swiped around on her phone. "Sure thanks, I don't want to put him out, but whateva, if he wants to come down, that'd be dope." She dialed a couple times, but he never answered.
"I can give you a ride on my Harley. We can't take your bike, but you could just come back for it" said the middle aged man, with a well stained and patched biker vest, sitting nearby. Wait, these people think I am just trying to get to Atascadero, not as a journey, but a destination. Like I needed to be there for some reason. "Oh no, thank you, but I need to get there on my bike, because I am stranded without it. I don't actually need to get anywhere, but thanks for the offer." They urged that the road was too treacherous to ride by bike. Trucks whip around quick on the shoulderless, single lane highway. So many people die, all the time.
Reassuring that I am impervious to harm, I thanked them for their concern. As I rode towards the highway, I saw a couple in a white pickup truck, and pulled over to ask them if they were headed my way. Nope, they're going the other way, sorry. Yes, of course, silly of me to ask. I'll just continue to ride this bike I have here, like I've been doing. Silly me.
To hitchhike or not to hitchhike? Damn ice cream lady had put fear into my brain, so I started looking at passing cars, evaluating them for their rapey-ness. I started realizing that any car with a bike rack was a perceived safe car. Rapists don't ride bikes, everyone knows that. Also, this may not have always been true, but any Volkswagon Bus is a safe zone as well. As they passed, I would make a split second evaluation, and then throw my hand up, waving them down to stop. I was fine riding up the canyon, the road wasn't nearly as bad as the old lady had described, but I mostly just wanted to test my vehicle/driver predictions. Would anyone actually stop, I wondered. No, no one.
I called my next host from a gas station, to get directions. I was a mile from his house, just up the way. He had his phone out, recording me as I rode up. "Are you alone?!" I was surprised he asked that, thinking that it was common knowledge, as he was a recommendation from a friend. Surely it had been mentioned. "Yes, don't tell anyone. And, don't be a creep." He then was surprised. Introductions exchanged, he offered a tour of the house. I left my helmet on to cover my gnarly hair, feet bare on the polished wood floor.
When you have low self esteem, all you can think of is yourself. You actions, your words, every move. You're such shit, that you can't notice much else. I don't want to waste another minute on the subject of me. I want to listen instead. And, my host graciously supplied both conversation and food. I battled presenting the right image of myself for his first impression, but instead focused on getting to know him. Let the chips fall where they may, not much else you can do. He told me about his job troubles, his new experiences in seeing a therapist, and stories of our mutual friend.
The best thing about strangers is that they get to meet you on what should be the wisest day of your life. It just depends on if you view it that way, or not.
As he told me about his job, he said it was in Paso Robles, where I was heading in the morning. So, we agreed that he would drive me to the bus station as he was going to work. I would be there an hour before the bus would arrive to take me up to Soledad, some 80 miles away. I still needed to find a place to stay in that area, but in the meantime, I relaxed with my host as I delved into my common work woes. He was seeing a therapist, as I rode my bike, and we lamented about our differing avenues towards self discovery. We both were facing change, mistakenly tying our identities to our experiences and careers. His had been taken from him, as I perceived that mine had yet to be discovered. And yet, tomorrow we would continue to be who we were, uncomfortably undefined, as we would remain.