Cafe Hitch-hike


The rewind ride: Rolling through it

I couldn't believe I saw almost 150 miles of road today from the back of a bike again. It was the first time I did that in almost 2 years. Oh, how exhilarating it felt to be on the back of a bike! It was scary at first and I had to get comfortable, especially since I was on what they call a Jap sport bike rather than the domestic cruisers to which I grew accustomed.

Motorcycle Manny took me out for another spin. I've known him since 2009 because he provided auxiliary services at Xanadu Tech, and yeah, we Latinos always manage to find each other (hahahha). I always knew he rode and hinted I'd be good for a ride, and we finally went out a few times in 2013, just before I left for my position at Edgewhere College...

I always liked his cheerfulness, and that was what attracted me to him. Yeah, I tend to be drawn to that and warmth, which he also possessed.

Manny and I decided to take a spin back to my former place of residence and employment, and wow, now I know why I felt so spent and crashed out on my sofa at 9:00 p.m...

As we drove past my former employer, Edgewhere College, I gave it the bird. Manny laughed and joked, "going nowhere in Edgewhere! I've been saying that since the 80s. Why? Because it's true. I never heard of anyone thriving after heading in this direction!... I'm so glad you came back."

He is probably the 10th person to tell me he was glad I came back and definitely not the first to tell me Edgewhere and its region were undesirable. Another person even hissed, Edgewhere sucks! when it came up over the course of a conversation, and they were quite upset that I had left.

Wow, I hadn't been back to Edgewhere since I left just over 3 years ago. I felt such a mixed bag of feelings! The place was quite rough, but the people were really good to me. I felt quite depressed for a good part of my time there, and I remembered because I actually forgot the names of roads. I used to drive down one state road just every day, and when we cruised down it, I identified at least 5 landmarks I did not remember seeing before. Depressed, yeah, my senses and attention was quite dulled while I was there. I was depressed all right.

I made the jump because I felt like I just about hit bottom, so I was already depressed when I got there. I had a contentious relationship with a psycho co-worker, had zero confidence in my employer, and was sick of stagnant wages and chances for promotion. I also had a broken heart. The grief of my grandfather's death hit me hard, and so did another heartbreak that turned out to be a symptom of deeper, unhealed issues that had little to do with the person involved. I just recently started to see... I ran away. I literally ran away. It seemed lucrative in terms of pay, novelty, and starting over, but 3 years later, I see I just ran away.

Of course, my former colleague Cricket came to my memory along with Remy. Wow, those two really brightened my world at the time along with the people in the area. I easily remembered their kindness to me, a stranger, and how different that was from other places where I had lived.

After having some Mexican food, Manny and I stopped at a place that is super-famous for its milkshakes. I was so hungry that I devoured 3 tacos and Manny got me one more, and then I consumed most of the creamy guanabana shake... Damn, I ate like I was dating! Yeah, we really do eat more when we either feel happy or connected, don't we? I was surprised at myself!

While we were out, a few things came to me that I didn't expect. We sat outside for quite some time, and the sun was starting to set in the west. There was something so distinct about the blueness of the sky and the clouds in that region that I've never seen anywhere else. I know that sounds weird, but I couldn't stop looking at it I waited for the milkshake. I guess things start looking different when we reach the edge of things, since we were technically at one edge of the continental U.S.

I quietly thought of some of the messes I found myself in while I lived in that region. Thankfully, I got out of them without lasting consequence, but I think it made me more careful about my actions. Yeah, I have been more selective about men and who I let get close to me since I had an unexpected and brief pregnancy while I lived there. It never happened before, and being 40 years old at the time added more to the shock.

Since it was the most time Manny and I had ever hung out over the course of a day, we talked a lot as well. In the past, our conversations were not very deep, but I noticed that had been changing in the past couple of times we've seen each other. He said he liked talking to me, and made some astute observations about me and the people we knew at Xanadu Tech (OMG, was he on the money).

He also sensed a couple of questions I had about him and what was really going on in his life. The short version is he had multiple, ongoing complications. They seemed very credible to me, especially when I considered other friends and family who had similar experiences. Life and family can be very complicated, that's for damn sure, and responsibilities can be heavy. At least it sounded like he was facing them and doing right by the people who depended on him.

Manny also shared a couple of observations about Lily because he knew her. He was friendly with her until she expressed a haughty attitude towards him while were seeing each other. She always had airs about her, but I never thought she would go so far. There was also something unpleasant about having to explain his accomplishments to debunk the preconceived notions she had about him. Yeah, he was from Latin America and worked in hospitality for most of his life, but there was a lot more to him and his life than that.

As we rolled back, we stopped in a town for gas where Rafa had relocated this past fall. I secretly prayed not to run into him or his sister who also lived there. Being on a bike with my friend made me remember the differences between Rafa and I. I can't knock us for giving our relationship an honest effort, but it still hurt a little to think about it. Well, at least we are in comfortably in our respective worlds. Oh, yeah, and I hated where he relocated! It felt like the Latin version of the fictitious town of Stepford! I used to cringe when I'd pass through there before we met, and then tried my best to smile through it when I visited him!

The ride was quite the rewind and return. I am still trying to make sense of the visit because it touched on so many different things.

It also occurred to me that I don't need to relearn anything I may had suppressed these past 2 years because they didn't go away. I'm just getting used to functioning a certain way again. Also, I think I'm trying to integrate the many new experiences I've gained with all of these revisits of different parts and people in my life. After rolling through my old stomping grounds, I really don't feel like the same person I was at that time even though it wasn't very long ago. Boy, talk about reinvention! When I ran way to Edgewhere, I was hoping to reinvent myself and also felt the same when I returned to Xanadu. I just never thought reinvention would feel so emotionally laborious.

Oh, but it was so nice to be on a bike with my friend. One of the things he said more than once was, "it is so great to see you smile!"

downwind | upstream