Saturday, October 20, 2012

Redemption May Be Found on Two Wheels

Autumn SunshineHarvest MoonFountain at Detroit Metro

Why, hello there!

I have returned to Texas, but my goodness, it’s been chaos around here.  Let’s do a rundown of what has happened over the past month:

* I broke my computer screen and was without my laptop for three weeks.  (But I got it back today!  Hurray!)

* My brother passed away two weeks ago.  My family and I have been in various states of shock, grief, sadness, and despair over his sudden death.  This event carries such deep emotional weight that I feel silly putting it in list form here, but I don’t know how else to explain why I’ve been feeling out of sorts this week.

* I contracted the College Station Plague, which is a nasty head cold that has been making the rounds in my lab and elsewhere.  I think I had the CSP before leaving for Michigan last week, and it came down on me like a hammer on my first full day up there.  And I’m still not fully recovered!  This morning I was shooting snot rockets out of my nose because it was the only way to clear some of the congestion.  (My apologies for that lovely mental image.)

* Finally, there was yesterday.  I was hoping for a very normal, very boring day at work.  And by “boring,” I mean nothing out of the ordinary.  Just a good day of flies, experiments, and data analysis.  Instead, we had a campus-wide bomb threat and I spent most of the afternoon sitting in a pub near campus, sipping a pumpkin-spiced cider.  It wasn’t altogether unpleasant, but seriously, a campus-wide bomb threat?  That was NOT what I needed after taking a week off of work so that I could grieve with my family.  Not to mention the idea of a bomb threat is pretty damn stressful by itself, you know?

The combined effect of all these events is that I was starting to feel like I was losing my mind.  Because of the family stuff in Michigan, I had very little time for exercise or to be alone.  The CSP made mornings hard because I was so congested, and I was having trouble sleeping because my mind felt so heavy.  When I returned to Texas, I was still fighting the CSP, to the point where I got home from work on Wednesday night and went straight to bed.  No dinner, no bike ride, no run, nothing.  I slept for 12 hours, and it was awesome, minus the politicians who kept popping into my feverish dreams.  (Joe Biden, what are you doing here?!)

I don’t think of myself as someone who crumbles under stress, but this month has been too much.  Last night, I was so frustrated with LIFE that I burst into tears at home.  I didn’t know what else to do or how to find relief.  I was still whimpering as I gathered myself up for a bike ride, and off I went.  I took only my keys—no wallet!—and rode my favorite long route, up and down the hills.  I pedaled toward the park and decided to keep going to do some browsing at Pier One and Charming Charlie’s.  Mostly I just wanted to be alone, to reclaim my independence.

When I got home, I had a little talk with myself.  I said, “Let’s focus on what we can control tonight.  We can make dinner.  We can do laundry and put away clean clothes.  We can go to bed at a good hour.”  All of those things may sound terribly mundane—and they are!—but they were soothing domestic tasks.  Easy things I could do after not having the time or energy to be a homebody.  I went to bed a much happier person last night.

Today has been a good day, so much better than yesterday.  My friend Sam took me to Fedex this morning, and we were able to pick up my repaired computer.  (Hurray!)  I went to work and got a few things done.  I bought groceries.  I got to ride my bike to work and the grocery store, and it felt awesome to be exercising again.  And now, I’m sitting on my couch, eating a freshly baked pumpkin chocolate chip muffin and drinking decaf coffee, feeling more like my old self.  Of course the sadness about my brother lingers, and part of me wishes I were still in Michigan.  But the thing is, after a tragedy, we have to return to our “normal” lives at some point.  The grieving doesn’t end.  I still cry every day.  I miss my family and feel guilty that I live far away.  But I’ve made a commitment that places me in Texas, and slowly, one task at a time, I am returning to that life.

Thank goodness for bike rides.  On the bike, I feel free and confident, like I’ve entered some sort of moving sanctuary.  I don’t know what happens to us after we die, but I imagine that my brother is now part of the sun and the wind, that he can ride alongside me.  I imagine that maybe we can both find redemption on two wheels, underneath this big Texas sky.  

* About the photos.  Top: a sunset through the trees in my neighborhood.  Middle: the harvest moon.  Bottom: the water fountain at Detroit Metro Airport.  I love that fountain.


  1. I'm catching up on blogs, and exhausted by a long, long Tuesday, but I just wanted to say that I am glad I saved up a few posts from you in my Reader, and I'm so glad you're back to blogging. You're one of the bravest and sweetest people I "know." xo

    1. Oh my gosh...this is one of the nicest comments I've ever received! You are too kind, my dear. I really hope that we get to meet in person some day. If we're lucky, Chicago will work for 2013. I'm keeping the faith! And maybe a spreadsheet or two...

      I am happy to be back to blogging. I have so much to say now, too, after a month off from my other blog and new ideas for this blog. Most of all, I just want to have fun with it and let blogging be a creative outlet. Sometimes I take myself too seriously :-)