Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Friendly Ghost


 Ya Can't Get There From Here
 Blasting through Daytona in a light summer shower, the Trailer Park Cyclist is a friendly ghost, swooping through low-rent neighborhoods where he fits right in; bedraggled and scraggly and no stranger to the demimonde. He is a soaring spirit, his soul cleansed and cooled by this gentle sweet rain. With a head full of future dreams and a heart heavy with past failings and haunted by late night visitations from fallen family and soldiers of his command, he knows that it isn't all his fault; and yet some of it is his fault and he knows it and as the morning rain soaks into his superheated skin and cools his superheated soul he is lost on a deep ocean of powerful memories; but he is not yet lost; not yet, for the Trailer Park Cyclist is a Master Brinksman. He is old and crafty and he knows where the line is...he has pushed hard and with bad intent in the past and yes, he knows where the line is and where lies the Edge and when to forge ahead and when to grab at the last moment for the salvation of the lifeline.

Whatever
Besides all that, I have a 7:30 AM appointment next Monday at the VA Clinic (22.2 miles from my trailer) and I am currently painfully and pridefully without an automobile.

“Who cares?” I say, smirking like a maniac and gazing fondly at my 1981 Schwinn Super Le Tour.

Night Rider
That's Super with a capitol S and 55 miles and 3.5 hours later here sits I, strong, bold, not haunted nor daunted. I did a practice run this morning, testing two routes to the Clinic. Both are fraught with peril. It can be murky and weird around here just before Sunrise. The local drivers are World Renowned for their faulty driving practices and on Monday mornings they ain't always at peak performance. So I will be wearing reflective clothing and have a rigged up head light and some kind of taillight and if even ONE hungover driver fails to see me I will douse my hair with Trailer Park Special Chain Lube and set my head on fire. That always works and like Richard Pryor once said, “When people see a black man in his underwear running down the street with his head on fire, they get out of the way!”

Uh Oh Toto
But this morning on my dry run I got lost and inexplicably ended up in crack town. Trust me, that is a 24 hour a day enterprise and any scraggly old white bastard pedaling an old ten speed through there is either undercover or shopping. I was neither, (for the record) but there I was anyway, only slightly lost but with strong legs and actually enjoying the experience. Crack dealers are apparently as guilty of profiling as the police are and I was variously whistled at and waved at and knowingly nodded at in a 'come hither' fashion and while I enjoyed my new-found popularity, it was way too early for drug abuse and I had to find that Clinic in a timely fashion in order to properly map my plans for next Monday's predawn excursion.

Bingo!
Then just like that, there it was: the Glorious Governmental Refuge for the Weary of Body and Soul, there it was and I checked my time and miles, marked them down on my two year old piece of scrap paper that somehow magically continues to serve as a place for deep thoughts encountered on my rides; it has my mileage and ride report notes for near on 4000 miles now and has been soaked by rain and once nearly perished when threatened with emergency use in the roadside bushes during an especially overwhelming gastrointestinal emergency. But that scrap of paper is still with me and I made my pertinent notes, glanced scornfully at the gathering morning clouds and started thinking about beer.

No worries there, mates, I know where they keep it throughout my vast rambling realm and it wasn't long before I was guzzling a 24 0z Budweiser at creek side and mashing up some honey-roasted peanuts, staring-down some little bait fish and pondering all manner of things.

Beechwood Aging
By some inadvertent punching of the keyboard one night while in me cups, as they say, I ran across an old girlfriend from those promising post-high school years when I still had hope of the Presidency and if not that, at least the Nobel, the Oscar, or the Pulitzer. Anything but the Trailer Park. But I stumbled across this past love and she has gone on to become a middle level executive at a mid-level organization that does things I can't remember. In high school she was by far the most exotic beauty and clearly the most likely to one day be a femme fatale and she was always just outside my reach.  But I hit a stronger stride in my young manhood and while high school was not without its successes, some late-onset physical maturity and a pretty good job and a pocketful of cash brought me some small reward later on. She and I were that sparkling nascent promising couple and it was a rewarding and intense six months, I'll tell ya. But I was only joking about a steady job, my heart was in the Cosmos and I had no intention of succeeding, not in the way she saw it and I was headed elsewhere (which turned out to be Los Angeles) and she had plans that involved cars, clothes, suburban splendor and so on...

But I ran across her trail late one night and she asked me: “Have you aged well?”

Rubicon
That was over three years ago and that not-so-innocent little question started a train of thought that has plagued me continuously ever since. It has caused no end of unsettled rumination on my part and I find it to be a kind of a trick question. Nor have I found the answer. It is a thing that is hard to know and one would have to perhaps seek judgment from a source outside of oneself to get a glimmer of clarity.

In the case of the old girlfriend, I suspect that what she really wanted to know was how my late-onset physical maturity was holding up and I also suspect she would be mildly horrified to see this quasi-fit fifty-six year-old man with too-long hair and a Goodwill personal style blasting around on the wrong side of the tracks in the rain on a Saturday morning, just a little lost, grinning foolishly and waving and nodding at the neighborhood crack dealers and pedaling rapidly and with strong legs, a friendly ghost from her deep past, a haunting memory of how it was before she achieved Cougar Status and how he somehow transcended his fate and magically held the line.

Fish, Beer, Peanuts  and Peacocks
I know this: on the way home I stopped to look at fish, eat peanuts and drink beer. I finished that joyful chore and meandered back to the highway, only a handful of miles from my home. As I exited the woods, there they were: the Peacock Peleton zapping by as though shot from a confetti cannon. A 24 oz Budweiser takes up a little gastro space and I was just a little stunned but what the hell? I gave it a push and fell in on the wheel of the last rider, hoping my heavy breathing and burping wouldn't alert him to my presence before my legs loosened up and I hit a stride. It is fun as hell for a constant solo rider like myself to feel the pull of fifteen guys doing 22mph. It is easy and like cheating to keep up and one of these days...

All's Well That Zens Well
The Trailer Park Cyclist is home now, showered and drinking beer and typing. His Little Darlin' is hosed off and wiped down and shiny and that bicycle, at least,  has certainly aged well. Those rascally riders pulled in for a break and I wanted to stop and hang out but I am only a friendly ghost, I don't think they would understand and I went on my way, pedaling strong into a very mild headwind. A milder headwind than usual, I think. A trusty bicycle and a light heart are probably hopeful signs of aging well.

The Cosmos is still here and so am I and I don't think this story has an end. There is no end and living in the Now is what they tell us to do but if I don't make plans and take trial runs I might end up in the wrong neighborhood.  That's why I do it.  That and the fish, beer, peanuts and peacocks.

Ya know?


Whispering Pines Trailer Park and Ruminatory
#70

26 comments:

  1. Well done Casper- friendly ghosts are always welcome....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Bloke. I would truly love to ride with Yer Crew in Oz.

      tj

      Delete
  2. Tim Joe,

    Another sparkling post. Beyond that, let me apologize for the extended silence from the north. Life, as is occasionally its wont, has gotten busy, if neither productive nor especially profitable of late.

    Rest assured that I read with enthusiasm your every word, if sometimes a bit after the fact.

    For now, I find myself awake at this unaccustomed hour and thinking of your planned pre-dawn ride to the clinic - an endeavor that must begin very soon. From the Hoosier Land, I can only extend good thoughts and best wishes.

    May your passage be swift and safe, though many motorists and crack town entrepreneurs litter your way.

    Bill Hopp

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wondered where ya was, Bill. Good to know I didn't run ya off.

      tj

      Delete
  3. TJ,

    Nicely written piece. When you get the words just right you are a wonder to read. This has to be one of my favorites of yours.

    Glad to see you're out and about, making some miles. Keep the faith, brother.

    Steve Z

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keeping the Faith is what I do best, Swampboy.
      Thank you for doing the same.

      tj

      Delete
  4. Tim Joe,

    I usually ride by myself, too, and feel the same way when I end up following other people on bicycles. Going that fast with such little relative effort really does feel like cheating.

    Thanks for writing. I have respect for beer, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kenny. Beer Respect is one of the Three Essentials. You already know the other two.

      tj

      Delete
  5. TJ,
    Here's hoping your early morning tryst with the VA ended well, including the ride both ways!

    Excellent ruminations, my friend! I'm with Steve; when you get the words right, the reading is like a cool drink on a stupidly hot day. This was a nice drink!

    I'll bet you've aged well. As my bride says, whenever she sees a picture of me from those halcyon days, "Thank god middle age set in." At this point, it ain't the years, it's the miles.

    Be well, brother!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Good luck on the bicycle commute to the VA. I'm hoping that appointment is NEXT week and not today. Sounds like Florida is getting pounded today!...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sara, because of Debby (the most oddly named storm thus far encountered) my appointment was changed to July 2. I hope no one is disappointed by my failure to ride into the teeth of the wind (something I have often done in a very involuntary fashion) but I will try to make it as vivid and daunting as possible, even if I have to splash myself in the face with my water bottle and grit my teeth into some imagined challenge. Imagination can be a mighty wind its ownself and I thank you for dropping by and sharing in mine.
      tj

      Delete
  7. "Have you aged well?"

    Could be a question with many answers. Good post TJ.

    Hope your Monday AM excursion went as planed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jim, at this point I think the best way to age well is to be crafty at dodging the kind of people who ask those kind of questions. That and cheeseburgers.
      tj

      Delete
  8. TJ to echo others that was a sterling post. I will invoke my own Richard Pryor quote (RIP) after going on a trip to Africa he relates to seeing a giraffe with its "Ass half eaten off by an encounter with lions but that Giraffe was like F&*k it... I'm alive!!" That may be one of many answers to the question "have you aged well?" Wonder how madame Cougar would answer her own question. Keep on ridin' and writin' velo Brother.

    Tailwinds

    RR

    ReplyDelete
  9. TJ,
    Another great post! You made me laugh with the "have you aged well" discussion. My bride's favorite thing to say to me, after seeing pictures of me in twenties has always been, "Thank God middle age set in."

    Hope your day with the VA paid dividends and you also survived those pesky 4 wheeled loonies!

    Stay well!

    ReplyDelete
  10. What's Up Dawg?! Yeah, she was a real tail-twister and the first one to put Dragonfly into my Reality. Well worth the ride: but at this point, viewing life from my Trailer Park Mountaintop, I would far rather be Me than She. I hope you are Kickin' Ass and Takin' Names in Seattle.

    As always, my Velo Brother, May Aeolus Push, Not Shove.
    tj

    ReplyDelete
  11. TJ, that was ONE FINE POST, thoroughly enjoyed it! Really makes me think of days gone by, and how every decision is a crossroad...where we are this very second is the result of millions of those all strung together into life. Would'a, could'a, should'a...doesn't really matter...it's all water under the bridge and we can't get it back.

    Reminds me that the way to live is in the now, and grab a cold brew after a hot ride, relish it, and be happy we CAN still ride.

    Freedom is the open road and the wind at your back. Let's not waste it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well said, Matt! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'll drop by your site later.
      tj

      Delete
  12. In answer to your question...Yep, I know.

    Hope you're high and dry brother. I watched the deluge down your way from afar and thought good thoughts in that direction.

    And your email bounced...

    In the wind with ya-

    Wayward

    ReplyDelete
  13. I was starting to wonder where you were, Wayward. Glad you are OK. If you are. My email ain't the only thing bouncing lately but the kids are all right. Now everyone will think this is code and Homeland Security will board your next train and ask a hundred questions about that Trailer Park Guy.

    Can't be helped, I'm Way Out There. But headed back.

    see ya when I get there.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yo TJC, I'm staying with a classy warmshowers host that owns a trailer park called Rainbow Adult Trailer Park near Smithers, B.C. He's a cyclist and he drinks rum and lives in a trailer. There is an old Kuwahara ATB hanging from the sign by the roadside that proclaims, "cyclists welcome". Perhaps he is your not-so-alter ego?

    The trailer park life is alright with me.

    nicholas

    ReplyDelete
  15. Most of my life I have done pretty much whatever I wanted to do, Gypsy, and I am still here. So maybe I like it. I hope you post about your stay at the Inn of the Rainbow.

    tj

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hey TJ,
    Great post! I put up a comment weeks ago that disappeared. Sent you an email, too.

    Be well!
    Brian in VA

    ReplyDelete
  17. I can't get a comment to show up here, TJ. Just want you to know I'm here, reading, writing, drinking a beer or two.

    Sent you an email, too.

    Brian

    ReplyDelete
  18. For my birthday today I did lots of nice things, like buy roses and re-read this post. Keep it published as I may need to ruminate on ageing well annually. I would say that riding with pleasure is a sure sign of aging well, looking fabby, not so much. Hope things are all good on your end.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks, Dee! Happy Birthday!

    tj

    ReplyDelete