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Yesterday was a weird day.  I found myself shying away from all the NYE hype, but the part of me who holds on to social norms felt a little sad because I didn’t have plans.  I kept pushing down the bad feelings, and telling myself NYE is a hoax, which it truly is.  It’s simply a way for amateurs to go out and show the world how drunk they can get, waking up on New Year’s Day with a hangover so big, the day goes to waste.  Well, I didn’t want to waste a day off in the middle of the week.  Besides, I get in bed by 8 pm on most nights now, so why in the hell would I waste any time on the first day of my clean slate?  Exactly.

I’ve been making major statements lately, mostly about how much 2013 sucked, and how I can’t wait for it to be over.  That is true, yes, but there was so much about 2013 that was amazing.

I had the opportunity to go to Cyclocross Nationals in January, mostly because of my amazing friends, Autumn and Jimmy.  Even though I wasn’t racing, I felt honored to be a part of Jordan’s race team, and it was an honor to watch a kid that has more heart than an NBA star.  I had a chance to spend time with the people I loved, and met some new ‘cross friends who are still in my life today.  January wasn’t bad.  The excitement of the single-most amazing time in my life would be coming soon.  I was waiting for February.

Anyone who’s anyone in the cyclocross community knows what happened in February.  We were hosting the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS.  That’s right.  The entire ‘cross world was coming to Louisville, Kentucky, a town that forever earned a place in my heart after racing in the USGP in November.  Worlds was everything I imagined, and nothing I could dream of.  I crossed paths with some great people, met more great people, and was able to see people I don’t ever get to see.  Everyone was at Worlds.  I dressed up in my finest Captain America garb, made a TON of glittery signs, and set out to experience something I can’t even express in writing.

The course was much like the USGP.  I felt honored to have ridden that course, knowing some of the best athletes in the world were getting ready to smash it up.  As I walked into Eva Bandman, the sound of the crowd captured my heart.  The spirit of cyclocross was overwhelming.  The grounds were covered with people from other countries, racers’, and those who showed up because a big event was happening in their town.  It was OVERWHELMING.  I can remember the emotion that hit me as I walked through the crowd.  It was so overpowering that I began to cry.  The sport I started just 5 months ago had become my heart.  I wanted to feel like this forever.

My ‘cross hangover was pretty huge, and the world without Worlds was boring and small.  I was itching for something new.  Even though I was loving my job as a paramedic, my physical place in life just wasn’t suiting me.  I needed change in a big way, and I began to apply for jobs in cities both big and small.  This is when I started to focus on Asheville.  I had done this in the past, but this time I was serious.  It was time to leave Tennessee once again.

March was full of ambulance’ing and cycling workouts.  I was getting ready for my first road season, and trying to navigate the confusing world of dating.  I had been content for almost two years at this point, and the thought of jumping back out into the dating world frightened me.  I wasn’t ready to let anyone in, but sometimes the world has plans you were unaware of.  So in March, I started walking down a path I wasn’t sure would lead to anything good.  And it was a path much like southern mountain biking…rooty and rocky.

April was fun.  I participated in my first omnium, and actually performed fairly well.  My fitness on the bike was still developing, and I compared myself to my cycling peers.  I spent a lot of time getting upset about how much I sucked, but on the inside, I knew this would take some time.  I had only been cycling for a year at this point, and I knew I couldn’t expect too much too soon.  Cycling was the first sport I ever had to REALLY work at.  I was naturally good at the traditional sports I played growing up, and if I hadn’t blown out my knee before college, I would have stayed with volleyball.  Who knows?  Maybe I wouldn’t have taken up cycling.

My relationship world was taking an unforeseen turn for the better, but my skepticism was constantly throwing me red flags.  I ignored them.

Started applying for jobs in Boston, Denver, San Diego, Boulder, Richmond, Asheville, and Portland.  No one took the bait.

May was probably one of my most memorable months, and one that I probably won’t forget.  I was pretty happy-go-lucky and didn’t feel much like my usual, stressful self.  May was full of live music and super-fun events.  Ghostface Killah, Danny Brown, the Asheville Cyclocross Bent to Blues ride, and the Mountain Sports Festival’s cyclocross race.  I spent every weekend in Asheville, realizing more and more this town was where I wanted to be.  It was the perfect combination of Boone and Mammoth Lakes; two places I’d lived and loved with all my soul.  It was also close enough to my dad, so if anything were to happen, I wouldn’t be stuck with $800 flights and 13 hour travel days.  When mom passed away, the last-minute travel plans wouldn’t have happened without the selflessness of my Mammoth family.  I will always be grateful for them. With that being said, Asheville seemed like the most perfect place for my tofu eatin’, Chaco wearin’, mountain bike lovin’, commuter aware self.  May filled my heart with joy, and I was finally getting everything I wanted.

I couldn’t find work in the EMS field, but landed a job with the Boys and Girls Club in Hendersonville.  Among my many scholastic talents, I have a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management, as well as an Early Childhood Development background.  This was a no brainer.  It was my Segway into Asheville, even if it was only a 3 month gig, so I took it.  I didn’t have a place to live, but some fellow Boone towners’ offered a room in their house until I found a more permanent living situation.  CB and Traci saved me, so to speak, and their support meant the world to me.  Other parts of my life were happening just the way I had hoped, but definitely took some blows…making me wonder, “WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?!”.  It was patchy at best.

The beginning of July was a little heart-breaking, and the smooth ride wasn’t so smooth anymore.  I was able to find a rad living situation with a perfect stranger.  I was nervous about living with someone I didn’t know, but she took me in with open arms, and has become a great friend.  This part of my life was finally getting somewhere.  I was desperately looking for a job to take me out of the end of my current job, but I was coming up short.  I decided Mission Hospital’s HR department was locked up like Fort Knox, and the odds of me getting my foot in the door were fairly slim.  I was also having second and third and fourth thoughts about other parts of my life.  I was the walking wounded, and the path I chose was tough to deal with.  It was too late to go back, and I wasn’t even sure which way would take me back.  I decided to ride it out for a little longer, because I’m a live-in-the-moment kind of girl.

August was hard.  I couldn’t find a job.  I began to have thoughts that maybe Asheville was a mistake.  I was discouraged.  I felt lonely.  I was excited for cyclocross season to start, making sure my training was on point.  This was the part of my life that kept me from going under, and the support I received was an important factor during this time.  I wanted to prove to myself that all the hard work was paying off.  I was missing my mom…a lot.  The things going on around me made me miss her more.  I was emotionally focused on other people, because my mom taught me to take care of others first.  I was ok with my place in life at this moment.  I was ok with sharing my heart with those going through a tough time.  This is what I’m fucking good at.  The path began to smooth out a bit.

September.  ‘CROSS SEASON!  By this time, I had lost 25 lbs since last ‘cross season.  I was in WAAAAAY better shape, and a ton faster.  I was excited to put it to the test.  I raced.  I did well.  I was speechless.  My training worked.  I was comparable to my peers.  I felt like a REAL bike racer.  I cried a lot.  I always cry a lot.  My heart was full, for so many reasons.  I allowed my true self to show…and I was allowed to see things most people never got a chance to.  I thought things were finally coming up Millhouse.  I found a job, even though it wasn’t exactly what I envisioned for myself.  Again, I had everything I ever wanted.  I was at the top of the mountain, and my heart and soul shined brighter than ever.  Of course, deep down, I knew how hard I would fall if it all fell apart.  I tried to ignore my fear, and live in the moment.  My mantra would eventually destroy me.

October, more bike racing.  Things were pretty awesome.  I even won a few races.  I decided to cat up to a 3.  I got my ass kicked.  I felt discouraged.  I wanted to sell my bikes.  I had so much support, and the tables were turned, and I was being taken care of.  It felt good to be taken care of.  Even though my cycling defeats crushed me, someone was helping me pick up the pieces.  I still kept pedaling, even though I wanted to give up.

November.  Oof.  I don’t really have much to say about this month.  The Boone Town Throw Down started the month off in a very happy place.  In spite of race mishaps and miscommunication, the weekend was a total success.  The week following was my birthday…a day that I don’t care to remember.  This was the day I felt myself slipping down from the top of the mountain.  I missed mom.  I felt lonely.  I sat in the recliner that evening, and didn’t want to celebrate the day I came into this world.  Birthdays don’t mean much anymore, and no one could replace the sweetness of my mother saying, “Happy Birthday, baby”.  I wanted to wake up on the 8th and forget about the 7th.  And then, everything exploded.

December.  Just tried to stay afloat.  I didn’t care much about bike racing.  It was a victory to even get on a bike, let alone complete my workout.  I was merely existing, going through the motions of each day, just trying to make it to bedtime.  I gave up alcohol completely…probably one of the few positive outcomes of the month.  The holiday I loathed was quickly approaching.  I was learning a lot about myself that I had stuffed away for years.  I missed mom even more, and found myself being very angry because I needed her on so many levels.  I managed to DNF two race weekends in a row…something I DON’T do.  I was defeated, discouraged, and deflated.  I was laying at the bottom of my mountain, deciding whether or not I was going to get up.  I somehow managed to pick myself up, dust myself off, and make an effort to move forward.  I found myself feeling bad about not having NYE plans.  I realized NYE is stupid, and just another day, and found myself in bed 4 hours before midnight.

I woke up this morning at 7am, ready to write on my clean slate.

2013 wasn’t a total loss.  I learned a lot about myself, and was able to share pieces of my soul I had never imagined sharing.  The good times were GREAT, and the bad times were soul crushing.  I managed to make it through each day, even though at times, I didn’t think I could.  I still have my dog, my friends, and most importantly, my bike.

My bike will see me through 2014.

Tonight will be the night that we begin to ease the plugs out of the dam.
And we still stand knee-deep in the flow,
the undertow will grab our heels and won’t let go.
And while we hold, our legs quivering,
the water rises now to our teeth when we just let go
and sail belly up to the clouds, the rocks scraping our backs.
To breathe in the air will be the only thing that we have
and all the wasted nights and empty moments in our lives
are flushed away as we sway with the rhythm of the waves bobbing us up.
Crests fall to troughs as we feel our gills open up
and sail belly up to the clouds, the rocks scraping our backs.
To breathe in the air will be the only thing that we have.
And if the hook set in the bottom of our lungs,
we’ll rip it out and lick the blood off with our tongues.

Despair could ravage you if you turn your head around
to look down the path that’s lead you here, cause what can you change?
You’re a vessel now floating down the waterways.
You can take your rudder and aim your ship,
just don’t bother with the things left in your wake.
Just sail belly up to the clouds, the rocks scraping your back.
To breathe in the air will be the only thing that you have
and your love will be warm nights with pockets of moonlight
spotlighting you as you drift, the actor in this play.
And you walk across the stage, take a bow, hear the applause,
and as the curtain falls, just know you did it all
the best that you knew how and you can hear them cheering now.
So let a smile out and show your teeth cause you know you lived it well.

 

 

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