I was just talking to my friend and fellow blogger, Pam from In the Shadow of His Wings, about my blog posts. I was beginning to feel they don't fit what I've perceived to be "the norm" based on others I've read. Other blogs seem far shorter than mine, more succinct. Anyone who's read one of my posts knows I tend to write what might be charitably labeled...essays. That comment led Pam to suggest I add to this blog something I once shared with her. It was actually more of a short story pieced together from a couple of journal entries back in August of 2007. I called it "The Summer of the Blue Bike", and in many ways, it's the precursor to Lakeside Lessons. I doubt this fits that short, succinct norm I mentioned, but today I'm responding to a request :)
"The Summer of the Blue Bike"
"It had been a rough year and an even tougher summer. As the days dragged on long and hot, I ached to sit on the sand of an empty beach and watch the sun slowly rise out of the ocean, breaking into the sky in all its golden glory. If I closed my eyes, I could almost smell the salty air and feel the warmth of the sun on my face. But when I opened my eyes, what I had imagined as the relaxing lapping of waves on the shoreline, was instead the incessant tapping of raindrops on my office window. Another dreary day spent chained to my desk.
It seemed this summer, more than any other, everyone I knew was vacationing on some sandy beach or cruising to an island - and they all wanted to tell me about it in raptured detail.
There were many things that kept me from the ocean. Money was first and foremost. Even a day's jaunt to the beach cost a tank of gas and fixings for lunch. An elongated stay with the cost of rent was out of the question. Then there was the matter of time. Going with the rest of the weekend warriors meant the stress of battling them on the road and the dunes. And taking off a day from work was akin to a miracle since apparently, I alone in the universe knew how to do what I do...job security is a two-edged sword.
Instead, I entertained myself on the weekends by going to yard sales and searching for bargains and that's how I found my bike. A man's blue Huffy Expedition for the bargain price of $15. It needed a tire changed and a bit of 3 in 1 oil and it was as good as new.
At first, I bought it for the exercise...but as the summer waned, I discovered that my blue bike was no mere piece of exercise equipment. It was a 2-wheeled ride to freedom. I packed it up in my Nissan Pathfinder and headed off to the County Park where there were plenty of miles of trails.
As the pavement rolled out ahead of me like a black ribbon in a sea of green grass, I took in my surroundings. A larger number of blue jays than I'd ever seen in one place flitted back and forth in a grove of trees chasing each other in a playful game of tag.
As dusk began to fall, rabbits ventured out for a bit of clover and the deer began to graze - close to the wood line at first, they slowly gained courage and ventured out into the center of the field. First I spotted a mother with her 2 fawns, coats still sprinkled with the white spots of youth...then another doe and another, some with fawns, some without until I counted a dozen grazing brown statues. The elusive buck was not in sight however.
I cruised around the lake, through the woods and across the fields where shouts and clapping cheered on soccer and baseball players battling it out in fierce summertime competition.
Finally, my legs had had enough - my thighs screamed for mercy. Somehow all the miles of walking I had done for months on end had not prepared them for the ups and downs of the bike trail.
I put my bike back into the Pathfinder, locked the door, and grabbed a bottle of water to cool off. As I downed the thirst-quenching liquid, I was slowly able to regain the feeling in my legs. Gradually, I put one foot in front of the other, struggling like a toddler trying to find his balance, eventually making my way down to the water's edge. I chose a bench looking out over the relatively still waters of the lake.
The first thing I noticed was the blue heron strutting on the dock piled high with rowboats. A pontoon boat and paddle boats lined the far side of the dock - a reminder of all the activities the water provided in the heat of the day. Without warning, a flurry of wings broke the silence and a pair of seagulls lifted skyward from the water. I chuckled to myself thinking, "I may not have the ocean, but at least there are seagulls!"
This would become my routine for weeks as the summer flew by. Then, as if with the turn of a page, it was almost fall. The days seemed to grow short ever faster, but the tradeoff was glorious sunsets. Streaks of red, orange and purple painted the sky as the sun sank below the horizon in a burst of fiery light...and then it was gone.
It was on one such evening that I sat gazing at the water listening to the cacophony of honking geese as they arrived, wave upon wave to rest for the night. Hundreds covered the surface of the lake as a long boat cut the water, sending them flapping and splashing in all directions to get out of the way.
I pondered the past 8 months and all that had happened in that short span of time. Just a few days into the start of the new year, my husband and I had an argument. Not that arguing was anything new for us. In the 28 years of our marriage, we'd made it into an art form. Like the bob and weave of a boxer, we could land a blow and get out of the way, then come back together in a clinch until one worked loose and tried to score a knockout punch. Yet somehow this time was different. The fights had become more intense and more frequent in the past few months, but this one ended with him walking out the front door, never to return.
Of course, I didn't realize it was the final blow that night. Many was the time he'd threatened to leave, each time telling me I'd discover how difficult life would be without him. Occasionally, he'd even manage to stay away for the night - and once for a long weekend. But what was really different this time was my reaction. I didn't cry. I didn't get a feeling in the pit of my stomach that my world was ending. I was okay.
It was the beginning of a new life, but like most births, it was a traumatic experience. Something wonderful would be produced as the end result, but it could only come to fruition through pain. And so that was why I spent the summer without seeing the ocean. And that was what led me to the blue bike and ultimately a new found sense of freedom and a real joy. I was finally living life."
When I wrote this, I talked about something wonderful being produced as the end result of a traumatic experience. I had no way of knowing what the next 5 years would bring. Highs and lows, sadness and joy. But ultimately, a closer walk with God, a wonderful support system from a new church, a ministry calling, and much, much more - including a friend who has lent me his beach house for a few days the last few years so I can see and feel and smell the ocean. Lastly, the blue bike has been replaced by a purple one aptly named "Magnum Rebound", but I still find freedom and joy in riding.