Yesterday marked my 23rd trip around the sun. My day was filled to the brim with beauty, fun, and lots and lots of love. One of my favorite, and one of the creepiest, riders asked me to answer two questions for my birthday: (1) what was my favorite memory from the last year?, and (2) what am I most looking forward to in the next year? I didn’t have an answer from her then, but the day lent itself to contemplation, so I’ll try to answer now.
Yesterday I woke up at 5 a.m. sardined between four of my best friends in a tent that could not have been warmer than negative fifty degrees. Immediately I heard Erin, one of our fearless leaders, send out the call to sing me happy birthday at the top of Bike and Build’s sleepy lungs. I yelled back for everyone to be quiet. And, since it was my birthday, everyone actually was quiet in the morning for once (and they didn’t even tease me about my crankiness).
They sang me happy birthday an hour later in hushed voices. I loved them even more!
When we got on the road, it was no warmer, but the miles flew by anyhow. We floated up and down “rolling mountians”, as we call them now. The hills opened up into beautiful prairie highlighted by distant grey and blue mountains. The light felt clearer, lending itself to thoughts of my life thus far, and the incredible happiness I have now.
I have felt lost for most of my life–floundering around, trying to find distractions, or what others think I should be doing, and then stumbling in another direction. This summer has given me a purpose and direction in a way unlike any other. Each morning I wake up and cycle down the road for a cause I believe in, with people I love dearly, and support from people I adore all over the country. This is the way I have always dreamt of living, even though I never knew this way of life was possible.
I came on this trip wanting to write this blog in order to inspire people out of their monotonous habits and into their dreams–but I didn’t realize that I would be inspired so much as well. I have had a taste of living a life that I am passionate and proud of, and I want to carry this wonder from this trip into my ‘real life’. I’m starting to believe that we all actually can live the lives that we choose for ourselves.
I cycled for the second half of the day with Avry, my amazing partner in crime. We arrived, a little shaken from a busy road, to our host and were alerted that there was a fair/rodeo in town. The Wayne County Fair has been my birthday tradition for years, and I loved that I would get to carry on the fair tradition with this new family of mine! After a delicious dinner, Cookie read a poem the group had written for me, and May carried out a beautiful chocolate cake. I couldn’t have felt more special (especially after Neil and Christine–the creepy duo–gave me presents during the day)!
We all headed out to the fair. Rachel beat me on the mechanical bull (wow, way harder that I ever expected, and not at all like riding out a buck on a horse!), but Will gave Avry and I some DMed (DM=donation magic) rodeo tickets, and my loss was promptly forgotten. The rodeo was thrilling–with no injuries, tough, angry bulls, crazy barrel racing cowgirls, and a whole lot of cheering. And after the rodeo, we visited some extremely friendly sheep (I have always only known stupid skiddish ones), and saw pigs (my favorites!) trying to sleep off the heat.
But to answer the first birthday question posed, my favorite memory of the year happened after the pigs. Perhaps my memory is just not good enough to think of a memory from earlier in the year, but I think, instead, that the whole year has been leading up to the big realization I stated above. Avry and I stopped before leaving the fair to get me a (mom: don’t read the next three words, I was getting steamed kale) deep fried snickers, and we met a lovely lady with two boys. We started chatting, and she was so excited about the whole idea of the trip. Instead of looking disappointed, or assuring me my life wasn’t going to be too bad, when I said that I was thinking of staying in Seattle and was unsure of where my “career” (if you can call the jobs I have had in the past a career) was going, she still was excited. She said that I should keep adventuring, and then bought her own snickers. I needed to hear that bit of assurance.
I am most excited to continue really living in this upcoming year. I am looking forward to dreaming large, making those crazy plans happen, and meeting more adventurers. I can’t wait to see what happens.
What are you guys looking forward to this year, and how are you going after your dreams?