Departures

Day 1, Mary’s Peak Watershed to Albany, 27 miles

Hello dear reader! I’m back on the road again, and thus rebooting my blog. My plan this fall is to cycle from Seattle to San Diego, via the Pacific Coast Highway. That’s the outward journey anyway. Inwardly, I’m traveling to deeper realms, coming home to myself after what feels like a long departure.

My hope for this blog is to share my thoughts, feelings, experiences and musings with you, if you’re willing to come along for the ride. I always try to be as frank as possible, valuing transparency and honesty over attempts to fit in or conform to cultural expectations. I’ve been exploring this vulnerability in social media, as well, with interesting results. Aside from the ubiquitous happy selfies, how much real emotion and expression happens on Facebook or Instagram? Sharing of thoughts, questions, passion, grief? Posting a picture of my tear stained face brought love, support, and concern – am I ok? Yes, I’m fine. I just grieving.

Grief, ah, that emotion. I’ve been in the throes of it, for the past couple weeks. Loss of a year long love relationship. A departure I had to initiate, yet that truly broke my heart. Turning my world upside down again. So difficult to fully process grief. I even added it to my going away checklist, to make sure I gave myself sufficient time, to be gentle with myself. I’ve been disoriented, questioning myself, my relationship process, to the roots. Insights come, then vanish. I’m grateful to receive support from wise counsel, friends, a bon voyage, sharing circle, my writing practice, and now, this bicycle journey. Into the unknown, there I’ll get my bearings again. Losing myself in the vast wilderness of the strange, I’ll find myself, home and familiar in my body and heart.

The lead up to departure was typically fraught with last minute details, maintenance, preparing my manager to take over the helm of the restaurant, compressed into a few days. Daze. So little sleep on the last night, belongings strewn about the Kiva, then packing at 530am. Magically everything fit into the four bags I attach to my bicycle.

And I’m off, once again. Rolling down Homestead Road, bicycle tuned up by Matthew at Corvallis Cyclery, newly threaded Velocity rim on the rear wheel, new brakes, new chain. New heart, new mind, new yearnings. I’m ready. I ride to Corvallis, a breeze. The rains holding off. I stop at FireWorks for a couple final tasks: cleaning out the grease trap. If you don’t know what this is, ask me. Suffice it to say it’s one of the grossest tasks of running a commercial restaurant.

Angelina arrives, working on the floors. So good to have her friendship and support over the years, and now her expert use of degreaser around the fryer. We recently realized we’ve been friends for 21 years. Seems like a lifetime. I mount a new Open sign, print extra menus, finish some accounting, then it’s time to go. A long hug, bon voyage, and away I pedal, ringing my handlebar bell. Leaving Corvallis for what seems will be a very long time.

The ride to Albany is wet, rain returning. I’m smiling through it, happy to be pedaling, happy to have reduced my belongings to these four bags, happy to feel the aches and pains of the past year rolling underneath my wheels, fading, fading into the past. Always forward, the only rule of bicycle touring. Unless you turn around, of course.

I catch the Bolt Bus to Portland, then meet up with friends for coffee and dinner. Deep conversation, sharing feelings, passions, dreams. How I cherish this intimacy, this ability to open my soul to another, and to receive their vulnerability. And how painful when this is absent, between loved ones, family members, or in the grotesqueries of politics and racism and warring nations.

To open the heart, risk being seen, this is my fervent desire, and sometimes the source of such pain. And I welcome it.

I will keep my heart opening, again and again. Receive what comes. Reflect back as well as I can, the compassion and love and empathy that heals. Continue my studies of nonviolence, in communication and practice. Do no harm. Which also means, accept no harm. Challenge the injustices in the world, in relationships, and within my mind.

Lara, my counselor, has shared the vital insight that any conflict outside, is within. From Jung, the projection of inner strife between the various parts of self is the source of all violence. In what ways do I abandon myself, judge and punish myself, this fundamental departure from integrity is the wound I seek to heal.

So I’m leaving today, traveling far and wide, and coming home, to my heart and my body and my dreams and my passions, coming home to me. Dear reader, I wish you the same in your journey. Bon voyage!

 

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