My friend Josh is a co-worker at one of my school’s I teach at. He is also an artist. We’ve gotten to know each other at school and this summer we spent more time together as I helped him put an art show together at our coffee shop. He’s been working on these masks for about 6 months now, each one representing a different god in his Mvskogee Creek/Seminole tribe. Over the Summer he put on a fashion show with these masks. I was bummed I wasn’t able to attend. He is doing another one in a couple weeks and this one I am committing to attend.
He stopped in my room today to let me know how the preparations are unfolding. I asked if he still was on the hunt for models to wear his masks. “Yes!” He said.
I struggled to put my next sentences together and he looked at me with a confused, anticipatory stare, as I tried to get the words out.
“Do I, ummm, well, are you looking for, uh, do I have to actually be able to model?”
He laughed and swatted his hand towards me and said, “No. I only used that word because I don’t know how else to be clear about what I need.”
“Because if you just need a body, I can be a body!”
“I just need bodies,” he said.
I find it difficult to commit to dates, especially dates that personally tie my schedule up, but not of the rest of my family. We live our life so last minute that scheduling something in advance can prove problematic, as I am the typical chauffeur to all kid-life events. Who knows what will come up on this particular evening that I have committed. But having missed the last one, and having really wanted to support Josh’s vision, and thinking how cool it would be to not just go to the show, but be a part of it, I decided this needs to happen. I’ll find a way.
I asked other people I thought might consider modeling with me. And after they respond, or don’t, I may ask more. How fun to get to be involved in this! My ghosty did appear today, both in the act of committing to the day, asking other people to get involved and offering to model myself. There is a lot of unknown that goes along with this, but what I keep tethering too is that this is my friend Josh, and I trust him, and I believe in his art. He is my known in all the unknown of this future night. Missing his show last time was really hard for me, and that too helps me know that I need to be at this one. I am way more excited than I am fearful, which is a good way to gauge if it’s worth the risk.
I saw a face in the back of a car today while driving. Not as in a person starting at me through the back window, but as in the break lights were eyes and the bumper was a mouth and there was a triangle that looked like one little vampire tooth. When I saw the face, I thought, this is my ghosty for today. A ghosty who wants to talk to me about modeling deity masks and, oh yeah, riding my bike.
The other thing I had some anxiety about earlier today was riding my bicycle tonight. It iwas the first time in 3 weeks that I’ve been to a Thursday night ride, and now the route has changed to accommodate a safer and a little warmer night ride due to the colder months and less daylight. It is a ride I haven’t done before (although it is around a lake which I’ve ridden around plenty of times before) and the Thursday night ride is a fast ride, the goal being in certain sections called hot zones, to ride as hard as you can and sustain the effort as long as you can until the hot zone ends. I haven’t done Thunder Thursday, as it is called for good reason, since I injured myself in a race. So yes, I felt a little nervous.
When I showed up I was the only woman there, which wasn’t surprising since the temperature was 37 and it is a night ride. But I didn’t jump into conversation with the guys present by verbalizing all the ways I was scared or all the reasons I shouldn’t be there. Instead I felt confident that I knew where we were riding, and I knew who I was riding with, I know how to ride in the dark, and I know how to ride a ride that has hot zones in it. These were my knowns, and they made facing the ride very doable and the fears minimal. I am thankful that I have enough history riding that I am familiar with all these aspects of riding, and I don’t have to be scared about EVERYTHING, just some things. Just the unknown things.
The ride ended up fine. I dropped my headlight on the ride to the lake, and even though I asked them not to, everyone waited on me…twice. Once so I could pick up my light and once again because I couldn’t get it on properly. Ugh. As for the ride itself, I did not perform well. The guys who are used to riding with me were a little surprised I wasn’t hanging longer than I did, as was I, but alas my injury flared up way more than I expected it to, causing me all sorts of problems with going fast. I was in tears stretching it out after the ride. The nerve pain takes my breath away. Still I had a lot of fun and am glad I tried something new and faced my fears of attending a new ride. It’s always good to see I can do something unknown to me. Very satisfying.
What isn’t satisfying is my performance. The last time I did Thunder Thursday 3 weeks ago, before I got hurt, I was able to hang on for so long. It was a really rewarding experience to see all my work over the Summer finally give me some results. So I have to say I was pretty bummed to get popped so quickly from the group this evening.
At school today I had one of the women I work for come observe me teaching in the classroom. I introduced her to the teachers I work with and the principal. She was very complimentary of me to the principal and again in a text she sent me. It felt so good to be told I was doing great at something. I work really hard at my job and always aim to be getting better, so it was so rewarding to be affirmed in what I strive for. I am surprised as an adult how few of those moments I get. Growing up in school it was a very common thing for me to be praised for my hard work. I love love love words of affirmation and respond well to them, but they sure are few and far between when you leave school and go about your adult life.
This is why cycling was starting to get more and more fun because I have worked so hard to get where I am, and I have a pushed through a hell of a lot of scary things for me to have so many riding options accessible to me, and I was starting to see results. Goals achieved and PRs had and encouragement and even pleasant surprise from my teammates. So realizing how debilitating this injury is to my progress, and how slow it might take to heal, was a little sock to the gut this evening. My ghosty shows up because I think I’ve lost my competitive edge, and I don’t foresee it being a quick return to me. The was my leg feels, it’s going to take time. I have time, all the time in the world, I just wish it didn’t have to go this way.
But I can do this. I can visit with my ghosty, see what it has to say and then pivot into my known. I know my leg won’t feel like this forever. I know I have yoga and physical therapy to help. I know even with my leg flaring up I still got a PR tonite and faced fears and was the only woman riding. I know that enjoying my riding is still my number one goal, and I had a lot of fun tonite. I felt myself being more calm, more sure, more confident in my own body and its abilities…both when I can hang and when I can’t. It’s nice to feel okay with being me, just as I am on this particular day. I know these people I get to ride with are awesome. I know I am doing the best I can. I know my legs are sore from a leg/lifting workout I did last night (I keep forgetting about that) and getting strong will help prevent future injuries. I know I have more to my life than cycling, and it was nice to feel good at being an art teacher today because I have come a LONG way with that too and have pushed through enormous amounts of fear to stand in front of humans and teach them art. I know I have tortellinii spinach sausage soup on the stove, which I was motivated to make when I realized I was going to be riding in 30 degree temperatures tonite, and I know that a second helping of that soup is sounding pretty good right now.
It is late, and I am tired, and I am hoping I have enough words in my words count goal, but I am so damn proud of this day and what I have sat with and worked through.
One more thing before I leave, earlier today I sat in a parking lot that overlooks a memorable place for me. I went there for some inspiration and maybe some closure, as writing as brought a lot to the surface of my life lately, and life in general has been very trying the past three weeks. Upon getting out of my car and having a look at said memorable place I realized with complete disappointment that the place has been neglected, and is now overgrown with weeds and overgrown trees and debris. I went back to my car and tried to summon some nugget of wisdom from this once sacred sanctuary, but nothing came to me. Nothing but, I’m tired and empty and have no energy today. I’ve been doing so much soul work, my soul needs a nap.
Then it dawned on me this was closure. The overgrown pathways, this was not a place I needed to come to anymore. This was a door closed. A path completed. Time has moved on, and it is time for me to do so as well. I thought about my door I fasted for earlier this week, and realized that going through that door was all about not letting myself be hurt by my past anymore. This memorable place for me was special, but it was also tied into some painful things from my past, some things that I needed to set free so I could move on, on, on.
I know what bitterness can taste like, bitterness when I hold onto things that no one else can change for me because they already played out like they played out. It is time that I be my own hero and make the much needed 180, like I did in the parking lot today when it became oh so very secret message clear that the past was overgrown, and I was no longer needed there.
Time for soup, a word count check and sleep.