Going the distance

This one goes out to all my senioritis-suffering yet college-lovin’ homies.

I woke up with my eyes facing a patch of blue cut diagonally by a jet contrail.  I’ve woken up in the dark for so many days that I still think I’ve slept in when I wake up to sunlight.  Sometimes the longest distance I travel in a day is the fourteen inches it takes to get out of bed.  The jet that left its trail bisecting my window is miles and miles away now; I hold in my thoughts all those who perished, crashing into a mountain when they thought they were bound for Düsseldorf.  When did it get so hard to leave my bed?  I guess it was that way from the beginning, when as a baby I looked at the far-away edge and knew it would be impossible to get there.  But at some point the impossible became not impossible.  I dragged myself, rolled over, did whatever I had to until the chasm was before me, and then I fell off and hit my head and cried for my tired mother to come pick me up, thus learning my first lesson on achieving dreams.

One of the things I have wanted to do since I got here was bike to Seattle.  Here’s a trick: If you bike to Point D, take the ferry across to Vashon island and then bike across to the ferry going to Fauntleroy, boom, you’re in Seattle and have biked less than twenty miles.  Vashon is an odd blend of country and fancy, where a “general store” out of a converted barn sells patagucci sweaters, and where fancy boutiques line a dusty road that will turn itself into a country highway.

On Valentine’s Day, my back was sore from riding a bike that belongs to someone else.  Brandon and I crossed over the water to this close but other world, fighting our way up the hills and coasting down them in an eye-watering rush, taking up the nearly-empty road with our spinning wheels and shaking frames.  When we got to Seattle, we discovered that the person who was supposed to bring our fancy date clothes was still tied up at a conference, and so we  went to Brandon’s brother’s house to shower and pilfer clothes from his closet.  We showed up at the restaurant dressed tip-to-toe in borrowed clothing, which in my case meant a pair of long johns that I hoped passed for real pants and a sweater that was basically a dress on me.  A meal never tasted so good.

This was baby odyssey.  My riding partner lives the dreamer’s life, keeping in daily touch with his dreams, incorporating his dreams into what his actions, his very breaths.  In the fall, he rode a bike across the state and partway back before his pain-wracked body told him he was done.  Tomorrow, he plans to swim from that same ferry landing in Pt. D across the channel to Vashon Island.  It’s not so much the distance as the chilling cold and powerful currents that make this scary, but he’s going well-supported and I know he’ll be okay.  Later this spring he hopes to complete the Dr. Gordy Klatt Memorial Challenge, running and walking the 83.6 miles in 24 hours just as the Relay for Life founder did.  After that, he has plans to create a record-long hopscotch course around campus and get it recognized as a world record.  World records are nothing new to him.  This one will be the first time his name appears in Guinness Book of World Records, if all goes well, but he treats every impossible  distance crossed as a world record.  Even the achievements  of tiny dreams, like kissing another person while riding a bicycle for the first time, are world records.  The ordinary is extraordinary in his eyes, and those eyes see the bridges over impassable distances.  To me, he is extraordinary for the way that his big dreams never cloud his seeing the small things, how in the mornings he will still open the blinds for me and bring me tea.  That is why when I opened my eyes this morning I saw a patch of blue and I knew that once I crossed those impossible fourteen inches I would have a mug of tea waiting for me.  And so I crossed them.