Reminder #1: Atlantic Wheel-dip at Charlestown RI public beach around 2pm this Saturday. Party at my parents beach cottage at 315 Ram Island Road, Charlestown (after wheel-dip). For more information/questions, email my mom Elin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reminder #2: Donate! We are so close to my $25,000 fundraising goals. As of now, we are at 81%, or $20,285! AMAZING. Can we get there in just a few days?
I had an absolutely fabulous time in NYC. I loved the saying on the mirror at the Ace Hotel, "Love is Meant to Make Us Glad". I felt the love in New York, and I'm so very glad! Thank you to everyone who made my NYC layover on this adventure an amazing stop.
Yesterday, my new friend Paul and I met up with my cousin Evan and his girlfriend Emily (and Paul's friend Johnny). There was some awesome ping pong playing happening. It was way too short a time to see my cousin Evan because I just love hanging out with him, but hoping I see him in a couple weeks when I'm back in NYC for work. I just want to say to Sue Telljohann or John Henry-Ledwith... I did NOT get injured this time. But, I'm ready for ASHA this year in early October in Myrtle Beach Sue and John... just saying.
After ping pong, Paul and I met my other cousin Julie for dinner and I quickly faded. It was a long day starting with Good Morning America. But, it was great to spend time with Julie and thank her in person for the GMA hookup! I woke up this morning ready to be back on the road. I needed to figure out the most efficient, safest way to get to Long Island. I decided it was to go by cab. I told an employee at the Ace, Mac about my plan to get a cab for the 14 miles and he agreed with me that this would be the best way to go. I told him I'd be back down after I packed up. I came down and apparently Mac had already chatted with a cab driver who ended up waiting to take me. I found this out after spending some time with AJ (cab driver) on the ride. I gotta say this... NYC was all about chance meetings. It was incredible. There were two people I was just supposed to meet. AJ and Paul. And, it's just awesome how people come into your life. AJ was awesome. On the way from Ace to Queensboro Community College (where I wanted to be dropped off to bike the 35 miles to my destination today), AJ and I had a great conversation. I sat in the front since my gear took up the back part of the jeep. AJ was intrigued and inspired by my story, but I was in turn inspired by him. I never would have guessed AJ to be 23 years old. He was so well-spoken, soft-spoken, calm and kind. His customer service skills are impeccable. He heard about my trip when he arrived at the Ace looking for a customer going to the airport. When Mac told him about me, AJ waited. I think he waited for over an hour. Amazing. AJ is currently in college (wants to be a nurse), writes poetry and he drives a cab to make ends meet. He and his brothers lost their father 2 years ago and assumed a mortgage. They are all working on paying it off and as he said something like, 'my social life has suffered as a result. But most importantly, I need to be in school and work.' Hats off to AJ. These are the people that I meet that inspire me. They are driven and resilient and want to be secure and stable and they do it the respectable way. But it's hard. Very hard. AJ and I chatted about the stereotypes and racism he feels as an Indian man in America. He was born in the state of Punjab, India, but I heard no obvious accent, so assumed he was from here (see? stereotypes!). He is proud of his ethnicity, but feels at times judged and even said is judged poorly by women he meets about being a cab driver. As he said, 'I'm a cab driver, but I'm educated and in school and want to be a nurse." Our conversation diverted to talking about fear. Fear related to what holds people back from accomplishing something - fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of vulnerability. AJ pulled up this 1 minute YouTube video while we were at a stop light. "Your fear is always about what's going to happen next, which means your fear is about that which does not exist." -Sadhguru
I had chills. I shed a few tears. Who is this cab driver? How and why did he come to be part of my journey? Because he was supposed to be. At the end of my ride gave me his number in case I'm back in NYC and need a ride somewhere, a big hug and after I gave him a generous tip, he told me meeting me (and the tip!) made his day. AJ, you made mine.
Being back on the bike today felt like home. And, I wondered what it would feel like to have what feels so right and familiar go away starting Sunday. What will I feel when I wake up? What will I do? What is the next chapter in my life? What have I learned? How have I grown? All I currently know and do is ride 6-8 hours a day with a destination and a journey in between. I will grieve the loss of my goal being complete, but I will celebrate what I've done and cherish the memories. I am ready to finish.
I thought about the states I've cycled through and they seem so far away. Like a distant dream. I want to remember everything, yet it's not possible. I want to remember being in Graff MO and stopping at the only thing in the town (a post office, literally not really a town) and writing my friend Dawn Graff-Haight a postcard since she shared a name with the town. And, while I was mailing the postcard in the post office, which is only open a few hours a week, a guy on a very large tractor pulled up and started to chat with me. We talked for almost an hour. I want to remember the guy who passed me in a car up a long hill, pulled over, got out of his car and crossed the street. And, I thought, great... he's going to give me s&^% about riding my bike. But as I climbed and got up to him, he asked (we were in the middle of nowhere btw) "Do you have a blog? I live in the next town and love keeping up with cyclists going through." I want to remember how strong I currently feel. Physically and emotionally. I want to remember all the people I met and all the things that have made me laugh and cry.
Today's ride on Long Island was very pretty and it felt like autumn. There were already crisp leaves on the ground and for the first time I heard my wheels make a crunching sound over the leaves while I rode. I thought about time and how this entire summer was spent moving. The snow, heat, hail, rain, wind. And, it's soon autumn. Time for the leaves to turn, die and fall off. Time for this 23 year goal to be completed and become a series of epic memories that fill my mind.