17 August 2008

Who Knew It Would Come To This?

OK, so what did I do on a wonderfully gorgeous Sunday that wasn't too hot?

You guessed it: I went for a bike ride: To Nyack and back, again.

One good sign is that I actually felt better, physically as well as emotionally, at the end of the ride than at the beginning. My legs actually ached early in the ride, as I was pedalling through the Upper East Side, Yorkville and Harlem to the bridge than when I was coming back, some fifty miles later. By then, I felt something I haven't felt in a long time: my bike disappearing under me. That happens when you're in good shape and you have a bike that's well-fitted and well-suited to you. At this point, I'd still have to give much more credit to my Mercian than to my training, or lack thereof. Kudos to the folks at Mercian Cycles in England who built the bike and to Hal of Bicycle Habitat who measured me and really listened when I described what I wanted in the bike!

Plus, as tired as I was at the beginning of my ride, I was in good spirits. The crepes I made for myself turned out well. Charlie and Max were being even friendlier than ususal. And Mom and Dad were very encouraging when I talked to them. Yes, even Dad, even after I nagged him. And Mom, being Mom. I described some of the anxiety I'm feeling about the job I'm about to start. "You'll be fine," she insisted. "You've come to this point. It'll all work out."

Now, my mother never, ever says things like that unless she means them--and knows what she's talking about. She knew I would stay sober. She knew, at various times in my life, that I'd find my way, whatever that means.

One good sign, according to her: My conversations with Dad are getting longer. It used to be that I'd spend half an hour on the phone with her and half a minute, if that, with him. This time he picked up the phone and I talked to him for twenty minutes--a record!--before spending the rest of an hour with her. That ended only because they were going out.

Mom and I had a good laugh, though. I mentioned that I'd asked Dad what he's been doing and how much he's been getting out of the house--and exhorting him to do even more, even when he's bored. Anything can get boring, I reminded him. But sometimes boredom is just a sign that you're dealing with something else. That's better--certainly for him--than wallowing in his Lazy Boy recliner and thumbing buttons on the remote control.

"He didn't know he would end up with a nagging daughter, did he?"

"To go with his nagging wife and everyone else who nags him!" she deadpanned. Both of us broke out into titters, which turned to laughs when my hormones kicked in.

Ah, yes. All those times we don't know what we're getting or what we're getting into. Like Mom learning that her daughter is named Justine (the name she would have given me if the "F" were checked off on my birth certificate). Or Dad taking me shopping. They survived and, I suspect, know that they still don't always know what they're getting themselves into. Even after fifty years of marriage. And their "son" coming out as their daughter. There may be no more secrets--or at least not very many more--but there are still surprises and mysteries.

Speaking of secrets: As we were talking about my new job and what it could mean, I confessed that when I was younger, I wasn't planning my future--not even when I was in college. Sometimes I'd say that I was thinking about law school or teaching or getting a job with a magazine, but those were half-baked notions, at best. The only constant was that I wanted to write; teaching or graduate school weren't even on my radar.

The truth was, I said, was that I simply didn't want to think about the future. I didn't think I'd make it there and, if I did, I knew that I didn't want the things anyone else wanted for me, whether it had to do with jobs, marriage or anything else. I didn't want the responsibility, I admitted, but I also felt I wouldn't be any good at being a professional and white collar worker with a wife and kids in a house in the suburbs.

The funny thing is that now I can sort of see myself as a professional of a sort, and that I can integrate writing into that life. And I may very well become a wife. I'd like that, really. Dominick says I'm a nurturing person and I actually like the role. Will I end up in that house in the suburbs? Who knows...especially with the so-called mortgage crisis.

Who knew that it would come to this? Not that I'm complaining. I knew I didn't want to be a husband or father, even as I was making some attempt to be the former. But I never knew that I'd actually get to live this life, the one I always wanted.

Who knew?

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