Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dammed Up and Handicapped


Squatting on the church lawn Thursday night was a mixed emotional bag. In terms of beauty and softness, it was the best place I'd stayed yet. I situated the tent in a place where I wouldn't be easily spotted from the road, and reconciled myself to the reality of my situation, but the realization that I was doing something that many people might mistake as an act of outright nonconformity had me squirming a good bit of the night. My experiences with Jerry only heightened the horror by which I imagined myself through the eyes of neighbors as they peeked between slates in the venetian blinds to see me audaciously planted on the church lawn. As if this weren't bad enough, and perhaps to remind me of the Bible, storms of the type Noah might have encountered moved through the area that night. The pink and orange lightning peppered the sky for hours before they actually came. I managed to sleep about three hours.

Of note:  one time, after awakening from one of my "naps" that night, just as I opened my eyes, exactly above my tent, exactly in my line of sight, a shooting star zipped right in front of me. I thought, "I should make a wish," and I said, "May I have a good journey." But I immediately thought after that that this shooting star was not about a wish, but a kind of sign that my wishes, for going out to California, were about to come true. Not long after, the silent lightning started. The orange, undulating clouds moved in.

The next morning, my tent was soaked and it took an extra amount of time to pack everything up. I shuttled all my stuff to the entrance of the church, under the overhang, packed it up and ate a little breakfast. I really didn't want to ride into the countryside with the clouds still hanging so dark and solemn in the sky. I could easily find cover in an urban area, but not out among the corn and soy. I looked west and saw bright blue skies and pedaled off.

It was a morning marked by wrong turns and a lot of wasted effort, going up hills so steep they required walking my bike. I'd get to the top before realizing I went the wrong way, turn around, coast down to the place of maldirection, and be plagued once again with doubt as to whether I was going the right way. After finally get on the right road, it started drizzling. So much exertion had me drinking a lot of water so that I had nearly depleted my water supply, so I looked forward to getting to Rapidan, Minnesota so I could get water in the stores I expected to be there. As it turns out, Rapidan is well past it's glory days and all the stores in town, and the city school, are boarded up. I had to stop at a private residence refill my water bottles. They told me that the town I was headed to was like Rapidan, and advised that I go to Lake Crystal instead.

Two miles down the road to Lake Crystal, I came upon Rapidan Dam, where there is a park with picnic shelters and water fountains. It was a great place to stop, rest, and spread my things out to dry. Not long after I stopped, serious rain arrived. I stood wondering how I really felt about continuing across a countryside where I could never really predict if towns would have places where I could get supplies.

I hung around at Rapidan Dam Park for quite some time, thinking and pondering, even eating lunch at the nearby Dam Store. After lunch, a bus from a handicapped, mentally challenged group home came so a group of its residents could get pie at the Dam Store (their renowned for their "homemade" pies).

I stood there thinking, "I'm at a dam waiting for the rain to stop, and here are people who are handicapped. It seems that "blocked" or "impeded" is the message I'm getting." It was like a kind of epiphany and in that moment, I understood that heading across the country on a bike to get to California, while certainly a noble and courageous effort, is something that will take months to complete, if I even complete it at all--and then what? Over the next months, while travelling, I wouldn't save money because food was more expensive bought in quantities for carrying in a backpack. While out there on the road, I wasn't either in California or writing, which seems to go against what my life should be right now.

I decided in that moment to return to the Twin Cities, not really sure what I'd do when I got there. Over the past couple of days, it's clarified and I believe I will find a way out to California that will get me there more quickly. This trip was important for many reasons, but it was never intended to last longer than it has. It was time to come back.

Coming back has been, perhaps, the most difficult thing to do--even more than going forward. I've really wrestled with it, fearing that I may just be giving up, fearing that others would judge me a quitter. But following intuition means following it during such times and doing what it hints at, so I have stuck it out, and all along the road today I have seen dozens of moths and butterflies--an omen I received a few weeks ago which seemed to indicate that big changes are coming.

I don't know what will happen when I get to the Twin Cities, but I believe the Universe is guiding me there, and as with every day and night of this journey, I know I can trust her to do what's best for me.