03 May 2009

No Bike Ride In The Rain; What Women Want

It rained most of the day today. So I didn't do something I thought I would do for the last time before my surgery: I didn't pedal in the New York City Bike Ride, which used to be known as the Five Boro Bike Tour.

I've done rides--including the New York City/Five Boro--in the rain before. But riding in such a large group in the rain can be dangerous. It's not that the ride itself is so dangerous in the rain: At least, it's not unlike other rides I've taken in the rain. The peril comes with all the inexperienced and unskilled riders who show up.

Very often, people who haven't ridden in a long time or who aren't very good or are simply careless get in the saddle. They make sudden turns in front of groups of people. Or they get tired and stop right in the middle of a crowd. Both of these things have happened right in front of me. Once, a guy who had whose bike was better than his skills and conditioning and who had more attitude than intelligence jacknifed in front of a group of people who were in front of me. They tumbled; I narrowly missed them.

But I saw a stream of riders rolling down Vernon Boulevard, which skirts the East River only a block from my place. I did. for a moment, wish that I'd gone with them: It's been a while since I've participated in such a big ride. Just last week, I did a longer ride, half of it into headwinds, than the NYC ride. However, if someone who isn't a cyclist knows that you are one, he or she is bound to wonder whether you're doing the ride. There are lots of people who know of no other ride save for Le Tour de France. And I know people who can name only one other cyclist besides me: Lance.

So that means the only two cyclists they've heard of are a cancer survivor who's broken records--and a tranny. Do they think that cycling is a sport of freaks?

Before I started living as Justine, the only pleasure I got from dressing--aside from going en femme--was when I put on my cycling clothes. Tammy used to say that it's the one opportunity for men to be peacocks. She's right: I used to have all manner of jerseys and other items in every kind of design and color scheme you can imagine.

The only problem is that they're all made of lycra. I simply don't have the body for it anymore. And, the shorts reveal the fact that I haven't yet had my surgery!

I talked with Mom this morning. She may not be able to accompany me to the surgery, she says. I believe her when she says she wants to come with me. But she says that given the state of my father's health, and the toll it's taking on her, she may not be able to accompany me, or to go to California for my nephew's high school graduation. She promises to do everything she can to ensure that she'll be with me. Now, if only my father's condition would improve.

What seemed to be a case of the flu a few months ago has degenerated into a myriad of other problems, which have exacerbated depression that has underlay much of his behavior throughout his life. It deepened after he lost his job; since then, interludes of equinaminity and stability have laced his malaise.

He's always been obsessive, but lately he's been overbearing with my mother. From what she says, he's either hovering over her or sleeping. Sometimes he won't talk; other times, he laments being a "lousy" son, husband and father. Mom and I have both told him he can't do anything about the kind of son he was, but he can be a good (or at least better) husband and father. And he can start today.

He and I had a difficult relationship. But that is in the past. It's not easy now, but at least when I've most recently seen him, he's made some effort with me. That's really all that matters to me now; the past is done. He may not be the most demonstrative person in the world, but he can treat people well. Whatever else he does, I will always credit him for the way he treated my maternal grandmother. The only person who has ever mattered more in my life is my mother, so anybody who treated grandma well can't be all bad. Mom agrees with me.

The funny thing is that she and I always wanted the same thing from him: Someone who is a supportive and consistent, if not constant, presence. A few days ago, Anne and I were talking about the qualities we value in the ones with whom we spend our lives. That is the difference between her previous and current husband, she said. We cry, sometimes because we're unhappy, other times because we're tired, and other times...well, we don't exactly know the reason, but we need it. Her current husband gives her his shoulder, holds her, talks to her.

Really, what else could she, my mother, I or any other woman want from a man (or woman)? Dominick has been that sort of man for me, but one doesn't necessarily need a romantic relationship to have that. Whether we're strong or something else, we need someone who offers an ear, a shoulder, a word of encouragement. It's not a matter of looks or money; those things rarely last, anyway.

Mom has not had that sort of man. But it's not too late. I'm more fortuante, I guess. Sometimes I feel guilty about that: She has done so much more to deserve to be loved and cared about than I ever did.

But I think she's glad that at least I've decided to pursue that for myself. Perhaps that is the reason why she wants to accompany me to the surgery.

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