This trip has had the unexpected and mostly welcome effect of helping me remember events and experiences that were otherwise long forgotten. I think that’s a result of all the time that my bored mind floats around in my brain, above my peddling body.
Jerry’s mind is busily cataloging all he sees: bamboo along the side of the road – pretty but invasive…new daffodils…odd cloud patterns, is the weather changing?…more bamboo…magnolia…pothole, crack… horse lying in the dirt to cool off or rest – or is it dead?” But lately my mind tends to be all: asphalt, asphalt, asphalt, asphalt, asphalt…
I’ve already said here that the time on the bike is unproductive. It’s generative – just not in a particularly valuable way. Like the other day, I’m pedaling along under a cool, cloudy sky, and I’m suddenly immersed in the memory of a similar day in 1983, buying speakers for my Walkman when I was a student living in Madrid. They were these six-inch square silver plastic things on which I listened to bootleg cassettes of Lionel Richie and Miguel Rios and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, bought on the street in Malasaña. I was very proud of them. And all right, yes, that was my music at the time.
Here’s another example. We head out one morning, having had a conversation over breakfast about how much this trip happens “day by day.” And so, of course, I’m launched back in time. I’m ten years old, and the new Christian Rock operas are all over the airwaves, Jesus Christ Superstar being my personal favorite, but Godspell as well. Day By Day is on the radio, and on everyone’s lips, and also in church.
Some guy in his twenties is doing the folk mass, much to my father’s irritation. The guy has these big chunky sideburns, and a multi-colored striped shirt, open at the collar, and the requisite red bell bottoms, and he’s playing guitar. The congregation of St. Edward’s Church in Granville, Ohio, is of three minds. There are people like my father, who are gritting their teeth and wishing the whole mass could still be in Latin, which they understood so much better. And there are younger adults and hipper adults who are pouring themselves into the thing, even that part at the end that dies out (day by day by day by day by day…) but they sound phenomenally stupid, and so a third group of adults with a sense of humor joins kids like me in just cracking up. The best the folk mass got was when that same guy sang Feelin’ Groovy one week, but we mostly missed it because my Dad made us leave, literally pulling me by the hand, leaving Maura and Mom no choice but to follow, embarrassed, looking at the floor as they exited. Floor, floor, floor, floor, floor, floor… (This was classic Dad. He once packed us into the car and drove us all home – hundreds of miles – from my Aunt Evelyn’s and Uncle Bud’s house because Aunt Evelyn pronounced my sister’s name wrong one too many times. (“Maara,” in her Boston accent, rather than “MOra.”) Dad wouldn’t have been big on Jerry’s musings on philology. He could be very difficult, but I miss him every day.
Sorry. I digress (as that annoying guy in the Cadillac commerical says). Day By Day… On my bike in 2014, I can still hear these songs. But now I’m sort of in my Dad’s camp. I mean, honestly… how do you mix contrition and the Virgin Mary and incense and communion wafers with Feelin’ Groovy? Even now, it just feels wrong.
If this blog seems incredibly random lately, you’re getting a nice feel for what it’s like on the bike.