Sunday, August 14, 2011

Today in My Eyes


GlenDale to Yorktown, VA

Didn't sleep a wink. Like a kid on Christmas Eve. Stared at the wall in the "quiet room" until light saturated and I could make out the sharpie drawing on the face of a Cabbage Patch doll. Slammed some Poptarts, signed the church's guestbook and busted out of there. Rode through the dew-wet forest. Flat, straight road. So unusual.

I have been excited since we first changed the final destination to Virginia rather than Maine to see Williamburg. I visited when I was 11 or 12 with my family and remembered the awesome magic of historical reenactments and candle making. Now, as an adult, it appeals to me in a slightly different way. Shopping, dudes in tights with three pointed hats, mugs of meade.

Crept around town at four miles per hour checking out the Market Square, Colonial Village and William and Mary College. I was transported to another time. Not so much the late 1700's. More like the early 90's.

"Lauren! Isn't this nice? Wouldn't you like to go to college here?" One of my mom's favorite daydreams. I go to a fancy college and she can visit me, and shop. I am sure that I am donning at the time some kind of peasant bonnet, and loving the hell out of it. Perhaps holding some kind of beeswax treat my mother has allowed me. I'm looking at the elaborate Colonial brick buildings and thinking that this is what all colleges look like.

Not surprisingly, my college experience bore no resemblance to that of a William and Mary student. Though, I have a feeling that no 18 year old can truly appreciate the romance of the campus. They probably assume, like me, that this is just what college looks like and drag their feet, desperately hungover from all that local meade, to Philosophy 101 without ever even looking up.

As for me, I'm enjoying it so much I haven't closed my mouth in three blocks. I'm just freaking out over the little soap stores, quilt shops, wine and cheese cafes. We pick a spot for lunch. It has been so long since we have spent any time in a city with a population exceeding 400 that the bustle inside a wine and sandwich shop is making me feel like Encino Man. I am overwhelmed by the noise and girls in Ralph Lauren belts talking about what kind of Chardonnay is best. I just want to yell, "HULK SMASH", grab sandwiches and a bottle of beer and run from the building, arms dangling like a great ape. Instead, I wait, grimacing at five year old twins with blond bowl cuts.

We sit outside and drink four dollar champagne and eat another person's sandwich order. We are 13 miles away from our final destination and neither of us want to finish lunch. We don't want to get on the bikes. We are almost nervous.

When a big exhausted family asks us if we are leaving soon, we know this is our cue. A final champion chug of champagne and we are off. The route requires us to ride through a vehicle prohibited area of Historical Williamsburg. A father and his two young sons are listening as a woman in a homely frock tell a dramatic story. One of his sons tugged his pant. "That man has a solar panel on his bike". Without looking down at his son, or the bike, the man responded, "Shhh. That's impossible."
We giggled.

For the remaining miles, we dance, we cheer, we swerve through traffic. A glorious 13 miles. Felt like 2. We didn't mean to, but we ride so fast we are out of breath. Here it is, the last mile. We are making our final turn, and as we do, we see Brigit's silver car. It makes a fast U-turn and follows behind us. Brigit and Charles are shouting and honking. Congratulatory balloons fly from windows. Brigit pulls up along side us and hands us plastic crowns. She is holding badges with WINNER printed across the middle. She has fake gold medals and all kinds of other victory goodies.

When we arrive at the water, there is much merriment. I am so astounded, I cannot even cry. We walk the bikes to the water's edge. Brigit blasts bottles of champagne and dumps them on our heads. We are elated. Stunned.

After all of the hullabaloo, we got in the car and head for the campsite, which is an hour away. I call my father, wanting to share the news. I hear a big laugh, which I realize shortly after, is a sob. Darn it, Dad. I was doing so well up until now.

"I am so extremely proud of you." We are both crying now, as hard as we can. I did not anticipate this moment, not in the least. Between the desperation of missing my father and the triumph of completing this journey, it was all I could do not to hiccup like a small child.

"Thanks, Dad." Brigit is in the back seat with me and she is wiping off my tears. I feel silly, but also great. I am holding a bouquet of flowers, wearing a plastic crown and my clothes are wet from jumping in the ocean. I'm having one of those moments.

Some people will regret not doing the things they have always dreamed of. I have the incredible fortune of having accomplished one of my biggest dreams. Often I have felt like I have been afraid of doing anything adventurous. I sense my own mortality in a way I don't think many people do. Somehow, the closure of this trip has made me less afraid of death. I am so grateful and so happy. I could leave with today in my eyes.


  1. I see from the google map that you're back in C-bus. It must seem a bit surreal, though hopefully not too disappointing. So welcome home, o mighty champions, the hero's portion shall be thine. Now shall the mead hall ring with the telling of your epic journey.

    Nathan-Andrew, signing off. Mahalo aloha.

  2. You are such a fantastic writer. I followed your blog all summer and laughed my ass off ever time I looked at it. Congratulations! From someone who knows precisely what you're feeling.