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Those of you living in climates still mired deeply in snow and cold, please don’t hate me.  It’s been getting up to the mid-70s here in the Gulf Coast region of Texas, which means everybody’s bringing the bikes out of the garage, going for walks and hittin’ the beaches. Personally, I prefer cycling in the mid-50s to mid-60s range, but I’m well aware I’m not in the majority in that regard. The lovely thing about riding near the coast – beside the breathtaking views – is the blessed ocean breeze!

Weekend before last Gary and I headed to Galveston, about 20 minutes from our new home, and I rode along the Galveston Seawall while he took off with his camera. I did about 12 – 13 miles, the most I’ve ridden in one go in a long time – maybe even since the marathon? – and it felt So Dang GOOD.

That said, there were some challenges. The seawall in chock-full in the more touristy sections, providing a veritable obstacle course of slow-mosey-ers, strollers, those large poorly-navigable/navigated rickshaw cycles, boarders & bladers, older folks out for some sun – many with walkers or in wheelchairs, and kids – lots and lots of kids.

Oh, and dogs!

Which means, unfortunately, the leavings of dogs – because some people are too lazy and inconsiderate to pick up after their dogs. Gross. I wish there were really stiff fines for folks who don’t clean up their dog’s poop. And there should be a limit to those infractions, like the three-strike rule, after which you have to serve a minimum amount of jail time.

What? Too harsh? OK, OK, community service then.

After my ride we went to Galveston’s oldest cemetery. There are so many buried there from the deaths caused by the great storm of 1900. Some families lost more than a single loved-one, and some families were taken whole, their family’s tree amputated at every limb by Isaac’s Storm.

http://www.1900storm.com/film/waterfront.mov

Also, I happened upon Fred Nitsche. Whodathunk he would’ve landed in a little cemetery on Galveston Island?

One of the things I love about having discovered recumbent trikes – aside from the actual free-independent-strong & healthy & wild-body blessings & benefits of the actual riding – is how much having Starbuck gets me *out* of my house. Because while I may sound like someone who is an extrovert and always off on adventures, the closer truth leans the other way. Mostly because of my health issues. But also because – as I’ve mentioned before in this blog space – like many writers/actors/artists – I’m a mix of outgoing and wall-flower, with a larger percentage of shy (until I get to know you, anyway) and the preference for quiet and alone over talkative and social.

Even before MS arrived into my life, I felt that peopled activities and encounters and organized events required great amounts – sometimes too much – energy and fortitude, patience and pretending. And while I do have acting chops, social inter-acting is not the same kind of delightful invention by any means.

All of which is to say, I have a certain level of anxiety about the big bad world out there. For various, numerous, reasons, stepping away from home tends to cause me anxiety, exhaust me, and hold figurative as well as literal tripping-up and falling-down places. I find so many people in such a blind hurry, so unnecessarily loud, blithely rude and pathologically oblivious. I wish there were a remote control for Out There, so I could turn the volume down, slow the pace, gentle the hostility and heighten the awareness of the inconsiderate.

(And, of course, a button on that remote that made people pick up after their dogs. With those little arrow up, down, and side-to-side buttons that I could use to manipulate the wayward dog owner as if they were attached to marionette strings.)

Then, there’s the chaos and burden I bring me with me wherever I go. The pain and incoordination, that bone-deep & weighing-down fatigue, the abdominal roller-coastering of symptoms, the always-on-the-edge-fear of injury, etc. My service dog Luke helps so much with all of that, but it remains, always with me to some degree -inescapable, unavoidable, undeniable. No matter how many devoted Lukes I were to have at my service.

(And then there’s all of the added stress and strain of the access & accommodation issues related to going about with a service dog, on top of everything else.) ((see previous, former rants of distress))

The light side of my tendency towards homebody-ness is that I really do thrive in solitude. I adore reading and writing and listing to my music, indulging in films while doing Pilates on the living room floor; the freedom to eat when I want, wear my soft comfy PJ bottoms or ratty hole-y jeans. I like the tree-filled view out of my windows. I like that the cats like the view out of the windows, too, and I like watching their responses to birds and squirrels and lizards & lightning bugs. I like the dogs asleep on the floor or on my feet, snoring peacefully away while I type on the keyboard or the reassuring sound of them gnawing industriously on rawhide bones nearby. I like getting up and making a cappaccino just the way I like it, wandering into the backyard to take in the early morning or early evening air while the dogs romp around in the grass. On the weekends and in the evenings, I adore the solid, safe, generous, gorgeous presence of my husband. Whether he’s playing video games in the front room or working on his photographs in the back room, I love sitting together on the couch watching our favorite shows or across the table from one another talking about something funny. I love it when there’s nothing at all between us but the sound of newspaper pages turning, the slurping of coffee, the bouncing of tennis ball and that happy huff-puffing of dog breath.

Home, our home, is such a sanctuary.

That’s mainly why I don’t like to leave. And, yet, because of Starbuck – my trike (and Yes, you do have to name your trike. Like a boat or a fine car she deserves respect and affection in return for what she brings to your life!) – I’ve been pulling out of the safety and routines and grace of home and getting out into the world in a meaningful way, exploring, discovering, learning.

Gary and I have done more away from the house, together, in a meaningful way – taking the TIME to do so – than we have since our first couple years of marriage. It amazes me how much more I actually like the out-there world and the out-there people. How much crazier in love I am with my husband , even, when I’m engaged as someone who’s an adventurer!

I think this means Starbuck has made me a kind of Columbus, a Lewis & Clark & Amelia Earhart. Not so much of the far-and-away crossing of boundaries & discovery, but of the right-here-in-my-own-stomping-grounds investigating, engaging with & celebrating of my rivers and woods and beaches and gaveyards and bayous.

Don’t worry, I’ll never be a full-on extrovert. I can’t foresee a day when I’ll leave the house and not be tickled-pink when the time comes to return home. But, I must say that this new brand of journeying in my life does trade portions of anxiety and dread and frustration for pure joy, reaching past the ordinary every day to extraordinary, all the way to romance. With life.

True romance: with nature and history and that in-the-moment raw, immediate beauty found in everything and everyone. Even in the flaws and disfunction and chaos.

Not, however, in the dog poop ;oP

PLEASE SUPPORT MY EFFORTS IN THE 2011 NEW YORK CITY MARATHON WITH TEAM LEARY FIREFIGHTERS FOUNDATION



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