50 minute ride

i don't have more than a few minutes, and i wish i had more time to write this post in a way that could clearly reflect the poignant experience it depicts. but i don't. and i'd rather just get it out. 

i awoke at 7am in arlington, virginia this morning.

after getting lost on last night's extended bike riding adventure, mariah and i weren't exactly keen on getting on those bikes any time soon, but this morning i was anxious. restless.

7:30 let me know that i'd fail at sleeping any more, so i got up and knew where i needed to go. it was an idea i'd toyed with last night before drifting to sleep. i thought of driving, but the idea of morning traffic headed into DC made me think twice.

i slipped out alone, later than i'd have liked by this point, the chilly virginia air swimming around my skin. the morning was lovely, the sun calm and the breeze perfect. i liked the feeling of starting out alone, as this east coast trip has been wonderful so far and filled with so many wonderful people and friends, old and new, but i have missed the intentional company of being only with myself.  this would be a lovely outing.

my pace was hurried. i reached up and scratched my forehead, a bit startled to find my eyebrows completely knit in tense thought. clearly my subconscious wouldn't be fooled by the calm of this morning.

i will ride until i find some sort of solace. 

that's what i wrote on my phone when i got to the bike share station. 

i got on a bike and headed out on the trail. 

i started out all hardcore biker. feeling my still-exhausted muscles from yesterday's journey around all the monuments and the bike ride back to my brother's home, it slowed into a more ponderous ride as i put on some music (while google maps still crooned over the top at times). 

the ponderous ride turned a little more therapeutic and the knitted eyebrows, unwelcomed as they were, resumed their position as i allowed some more difficult thoughts to drift into consciousness. riding certainly helped. 

there were some amazing vistas, and i didn't let myself stop to take pictures because nothing could really capture this experience anyway except for experiencing it, partially because of all the sensory input and partially because of everything that was going on in my head and heart. 

i crossed a few bridges and vaguely remembered my brother mentioning that he and his twin brother used to stand on a bridge and watch planes take off. i felt warmer and close to them. being 15 years older than me, we grew up in completely different worlds. i wondered what bridge it was.

eventually, the therapeutic ride turned into lost tourist. a little annoyed at myself, i realized that i hadn't payed attention when my intuition told me to go one way and i thought google told me another way (the same thing happened last night; perhaps i should learn from my mistakes)--but instead of correcting myself as we did last night, i kept going the way i thought the map had told me. i was a few miles in what i guessed might be the wrong direction. 

at this point, i was really low on energy, both emotionally and physically. the banana i'd eaten back in my brother's kitchen had worn off in the first few miles i'm sure, and the gatorade i'd packed became my energy. so, my lost-stops became gatorade-and-look-at-the-pretty-view breaks. though i really wanted to get to my destination. 

eventually i figured it out and continued on. i went slowly but i kept going. SO MANY life metaphors swept in and out of my head; i suppose that's just how my mind works to get me through physically hard challenges. 

anyway. finally i saw the landmarks that assured me i was headed in the right direction. i took a few more breaks and pedaled on. 

i guess i was sort of surprised when i rounded a bend and saw the bike deposit spot, with my destination just beyond that--and it just sort of happened upon me. i hadn't realized it but i had sort of resigned myself that i'd never really get there, but i was just going to obediently follow directions. right, left, go over this bridge and take the left fork...but here it was. i deposited my bike and dismounted. 

i walked up to the monument. i was glad, relieved even -- that even though i'd gotten here later than planned, i was alone. this was the whole reason i'd even wanted to go. i walked up the white steps and through the great white marble pillars, and mister jefferson greeted me. 

just like he did yesterday, when other people were buzzing around him. 

i stood right in front of him. i wondered what he'd have said to me.
i could use some good advice right now. 
then i sat, and i thought. 
then i read, and then i wrote, 
and then i read and thought some more. 

now, the rest of the experience is for me. but the journey there, i guess, was for me to tell you. maybe because i'm out of time, maybe because i got stuck up there in the details, maybe because it's meant to be that way. 

but either way it was lovely to find a place this morning and make it sacred. even though it was hard.

and i have to just kind of laugh at myself when i think of the journey it took to get there: hardcore and determined -- emotional and pensive -- wandering and lost -- exhausted and desperate -- surprised and quiet. i kind of just think that's the general repeating pattern of my life.

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