My party was interrupted by a surly old man on a forklift, “you didn’t ride your bike in today, did you?” Well yes. Of course I rode my bike, I always ride my bike. That little bit of physical activity is the only thing that keeps me sane. Those five miles to and from work are my me time. My time to focus, to reflect, to breathe. So I looked at him and nodded, he sort of chuckled a “good luck kid” to himself and drove off.
Rain. Whatever. I ride in the rain all the time, the rain doesn’t bother me. In fact, going home from work, I sort of enjoy the rain; it makes me feel young and alive. Reckless in a safe way. I feel a little bit sorry for all those commuters in their cars, windshield wipers going, radio blaring. All that stale air and rush hour traffic aggravation. Who needs its? If anything, I was a little excited by the prospect of rain on my Friday ride home.
I shouldn’t have been.
I kicked open the door to the outside and was greeted by a lightning bolt illuminating a monsoon blowing sideways. A deafening crack of thunder followed, and all was dark again, much darker than it should have been. I suddenly had second thoughts about the whole thing. Three steps toward the bike rack, and my shirt was soaked through. The next seven steps and my shoes where soaked through. I unlocked my bike, rolled up my pants, smiled, and took off.
The first half mile or so was fun. I had a big smile, I felt like a ten year old out playing in the rain. And then it got cold. And I was uncomfortably aware of how wet every part of my body was at the moment. All of my clothes soaked through, my shoes felt like lead weights, the puddles that I rode through threatened to swallow me. Another mile and I was seriously over it. Cursing my stupidity, my contrary nature; why the fuck didn’t I drive when it was supposed to rain like this?! And my Dickie work pants, my wonderful canvas Dickie work pants that I loved because they were tough, they don’t stain, they last forever; those fuckers weighed about a million pounds as they clung to me, and so I cursed them too. I cursed the city, and the overnight shift, and the stupid Midwest summer thunderstorm that was trying quite valiantly to kill me.
And then I hit the fourth mile. The second to last mile, the one with the hill. The hill isn’t necessarily that big, or that long, but it’s the biggest and the longest on my route. And today I felt like I was trying to climb the Grand Canyon. Legs burning, lungs burning, stupid canvas Dickie pants clinging to my legs, trying desperately to hold me back. I was murder, I was mayhem. I was agony.
But something happened about halfway up the hill. The entire thing struck me as absurdly funny. Here is this drowned rat of a punk kid, fresh off the overnight shift at the factory, biking home in the rain. And I smiled to myself. I felt better. I was young, I was adventurous enough to bike in the rain, I was healthy enough to enjoy it, and I had a job to bike to and from. I laughed at myself because while the scene was absurd, getting mad about it was absolutely ridiculous.
The last mile was a breeze. Life is good.
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