In San Francisco I used to pedal around on this spray-paint-can-painted baby pink bicycle.
Rocky had been made from the frame of an old, well-loved Schwinn World Sport, and he was homemade, but he was fast.
Between home and school there was an intimidating hill, one that took me a full two minutes to ride downhill when heading home after class. I often struggled with the uphill, finding I had to stop mid-way every time to walk my bike up. I would be embarrassed as city buses full of onlookers bumbled up the hill, eyes meeting mine as I trudged. I would curse at myself under my breath, red-faced and wishing I was just better, faster, stronger. Thinking “I should be able to do this, damnit, there is no good reason not to, I have to.”
One morning I changed my mind. That morning I decided it was OK to walk my bike if I needed to–that I would let myself stop whenever I wanted to, without a single harsh word to myself in the process. Every day I would just try to go a little bit further. But this morning, this morning, I made it up the hill. The whole way up I told myself “It’s okay to stop if you want to….” and found myself answering back “I don’t want to stop! I don’t want to!” I caught a glimpse of my face in a passing window, smiling ridiculously, just as I got out of my saddle and pushed into the pedals hard, flying to the top of the hill, giggling and out of breath, I threw my arms up and pedaled down the straight away to the next stop sign, laughing. I had given myself permission to fail, and I had found my success.
Dad called. and something incredible happened..
It was a heart-to-heart, which is rare from him now, but had been unheard of prior to my leaving the country for Mexico and Guatemala in ’09, the trip in which I apparently scared the crap out of and the emotions into him.
In this call, he wanted to impress upon me that while I have never asked him for anything outside of my college years, which he has noticed and appreciated, that I can, I can ask if I need something (see: previous journal entries re: lessons in learning how to ask for assistance).
And more importantly, that he supports my adventures and my risks, and even thinks I could be pushing the limit further…
He wanted data, statistics, numbers, factoids, on how I would make my crazy dreams happen. He wanted me to say these goals aloud, to write them down so that someone could hold me accountable to living them. He wanted to be that someone.
He told me to be sure I keep an account with enough money to get me home from wherever I go, whenever I might need it, and he promised to be there, at the airport, waiting for me.
He told me that he has taken on the burden of flag-bearer in our family for this very reason. I will always have a soft landing, so I need to fucking go for it, tear the world up.
It is hard to describe how impossible the idea of a soft landing had been until that moment. I had never considered a soft landing, had always taken on the underlying stress of my risks, had begun to meter myself accordingly. And with that, just by knowing I can go as far as I want to or can do, and it will be OK to stop. With that, my world opened up, and I could see the first top of many hills I can climb because I want to.