Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Night Bike Ride

The last 2 weeks at work have been very stressful. Very likely the worst ever. There was a management override of sensible priorities for preparing for the new semester. Yeah, it was bad. But we did the best we could, and continue to do so, and are making steady progress. Just a bunch of long frustrating days.

So I couldn't work my regular bike rides/exercise routine into the week. Finally it's Friday and traffic was ultra smooth on I-26 so I got home earlier than I'm used to. Nap time! Nice nap, but a little on the long side, so I groggied myself up and out for the bike ride. Pretty normal ride, but then I stopped to get a rock out of my sandal and noticed the gate was open to the old EDACO junkyard down by the river. It's all empty in there, as it is slated to become more parkland. I rode around inside the fence that I've seen for many years and never been inside of. It's a large space covered in cement that was dumped there by cement trucks with leftover loads to get rid of. The junkyard had an agreement with the cement company to accept the extra cement so that their ground was nice and covered and the cement company got rid of the excess. Apparently it is 15 feet thick in spots!

The other excitement was at the dog park, where I often stop to watch the dog antics. I stopped along the fence and noticed that someone had a Mountain Express newspaper and a library book lying there at the edge of the dog zone. I watched some dog action and then decided to get going because it was already getting dark. I got out my flashing light which I clip to my butt when I ride in the dark. As I was doing that a woman walked over, inside the fence and said, "hey, what's going on? You want to look at my Mountain Express?" I said, "no I just like to stop here and watch the dogs on my ride." What followed was about 10 minutes of very interesting conversation. It started with her pointing at what I thought were some trees along the river and saying, "you want to see something really cool?" Well, yes I did. "Look, if you look at this just right it's a perfectly formed baby frog." I'm looking at the trees for some form that looked like anything other than a tree. "NO! RIGHT HERE, ON THE FENCE!" Oh, OK, I see a tiny spider that appears to be dead hanging on the fence. And yes, it does indeed resemble a baby frog. She says, "I showed it to the girl over there and she told me, it does look like a frog but it's the SPIDER!" Several times she referred to it as *the* spider. She said she got right up to it and it didn't even budge. Yeah, I don't think it's budging at all anymore.

She then stuck some fingers through the fence and introduced herself as Christy. I made a greeting gesture by sort of holding and squeezing her fingers, since there was no possibility of shaking her hand. It was firmly wedged in the wire fence. I think it was about this time that she told me about the "little baby buzz" she had going from a beverage she was holding. It was wine, in a recycled package that was basically a juice box. Just 2 days ago, I told Jaime and/or Ken that they should put wine coolers in those juicebox containers. The conversation was one of those that is a bit of a challenge to keep up with as it bounces here and there in a totally unpredictable manner. I was trying to figure out how much of the erratic form and content of the conversation was caused by the wine-in-a-box-little-baby-buzz, and how much was just from a really outgoing and offbeat personality. I didn't really get too far on that analysis because I had to really hang on just to keep up with where the conversation was going.

Christy was a pretty woman with a sweet lilt in her southern accent. She was really friendly and seemed to be trying hard to keep the conversation going and develop it into something. My man-brain went on alert. It was thinking the situation was an opportunity. Man-brain has been on alert for opportunities for 3/4 of a year, but is in transition right now. I know why it's in transition. N is why. But knowing why doesn't change that it is still a rare and interesting experience to feel that change taking place.

I began trying to extricate myself from the conversation, I really did need to get going as the light was fading fast. I explained this to Christy after she offered to read my horoscope from the Mountain X. I told her that I needed to get going because it was getting dark, and gestured to the flashing light I had attached to my butt. She hung on and had to tell me a few things before I left. She told them with great energy and sincerity. First was the MOON, which was looking at least as fetching as Christy, about 90% full, and fuzzy and pink through the post-sunset haze. The moon she exclaimed, was 240,000 miles away, and took THREE DAYS to get to on a NASA rocket. Next, she pointed me to the North to some pretty PINK CLOUDS, and told me they were ALL in the troposphere. And that the milky way galaxy was 125 light years across, and there are billions of galaxies. And also that the earth was 15 billion years old. She pulled all these things together to say that we were small and had limited time on earth. Good points. When I first mentioned the flashing light and riding in the dark, she said something that sounded like she thought that if I was meant to be hit by a car the light wouldn't protect me. I decided not to engage her on the topic "the only fate is what we make."

She said I was neat, and I said she was neat too and finally rode off. She yelled to me that she could see my flashing light really good and I waved back. I laughed about Christy on and off for the rest of the ride. Several times out loud. It made me glad that I live where I do, so I can meet interesting people like her. Later in my ride I made my way down the relatively busy Friday night Haywood Road. Cars with loud stereos, and bikes passing me in the opposite direction. A bike passed me and I didn't get a good look at the rider. Then I started hearing, " Edward! Edward! Edward!" in increasing volume. I first thought the person on the bike was somebody I knew, but no. It was Christy driving up beside me, yelling out the car window about some other bikes with flashing lights and saying hi, and have a good night and so forth. I waved and laughed and said similar things back to her and tried to not get hit by her car. I laughed some more after that second encounter and made my way home.

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