The Maiden Voyage of Lionel and Stuie
There were those awkward minutes
Of looking at each other
In a dimly lit room with a big comfy couch
Fidgeting with this and that
The sweat of anticipation already on my brow
Getting ready to do the deed.
And I sit there on that big comfy couch, with my layers on. My biker shorts and socks go on first, followed by basketball shorts with a torn right pocket and a cut-off shirt from a St. Ignace Red Hacker that Robbie and I dominated 9 years ago. Then come the shoes and the headphones. Then a red bandana that hold tops of the headphones down behind me ears and keeps my hair from getting caught in the helmet. Then the helmet. And I’m ready to mess shit up. And I have thrown a tire-pressure gage, a hoodie, an orange, my wallet, and my keys into one of the saddle bags strapped to Lionel’s skinny ass.
And we roll out onto the sidewalk
To the sound of Radio Paradise on my i-phone
To the silence that we make as we glide
To the California sun lighting up the water in the bay
And we take our noisy, silent, glowing boogie north on Pacific Highway
At first, I think that all the joggers on the trail to the left of the road are very perfect-looking, but then I notice that a lot of them look more like me, or me forty years from now. Atop Lionel, I cruise at about 30 mph towards my destination, Cabrillo National Monument. From my grandpa’s condominium in downtown San Diego, one can look across the bay, over Coronado Island, out to the tip of the spit that finishes off the big, C-shape. Atop that very tip sits Cabrillo National Monument, commemorating the place where Cabrillo, this Spanish dude, first landed and started the settlement that would eventually lead to the founding of San Diego. Now, atop that hill at the point, sits a light-house and a visitor center with a gift-shop. It is 11 miles around the bay from my G-pa’s place to that gift-shop.
As my pedaling breath becomes heavier
So does the breath of the mansion-covered hills to my right
Exchanging air with the yacht-covered waves to my left
In a majestic demonstration of CPR
That blows us about in the bike lane
I stop to make sure my back tire is sufficiently inflated. I stop under an overpass that is the entrance to the San Diego airport, noisy with lots of cars. And I bend the air-valve on Lionel’s tire twisting the pump as I fill the tire with more air. Dammit. A drink from my fancy-pantsy new water bottle, and on we go. After we pass by the marina, we reach the end of the flatlands of our voyage.
The long line of dark pavement shooting into the heavens challenges us
And we bond in our strife against gravity and geography
Needing each other to reach our goal: to be together at the top
Becoming only closer with each painful rotation of the chain under my feet
Cohesion under external pressure, the chemistry of true love
And at the top of the hill, the Naval Base radar-jammer kills my I phone radio
Paradise Radio gives way to the live music of just plain paradise
The fizzing of the chemistry of true love
Funny as it is, I made it out to the point. I had to pay $3 to get in to the finish the last half mile. Whatever. It is a pass for all week, so I can go 5 times before I have to return to Michigan. I climbed the last 70 feet to the precipice of the hill where the lighthouse sits. To my right, the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, shiny in the evening. Japan, Hawaii, and Guam are somewhere out there, along with a huge floating pile of trash brought to rest by the currents who wish to politely hide our crap, enabling our addiction to stuff. To my left is The City over the bay. Tis a pretty city.
I peer back at the towers from whence I came
As most people must do at the end of a voyage
Tracing with my finger and my thoughts the jagged line of my travel
As most people do at the end of life
Lookin pret-tay good from the top of a little mountain
I began my trek back around the big-C , which was mostly downhill. I guess that’s true about life, too, but I’m all about trying to be a groundbreakingly happy old-person. My expertise is limited in this area, but I have a long list of things that have foiled that plan for other people: shitty spouses, spoiled children, houses too big for them, too must stuff, crap jobs, not maintaining their physical health, etc. I hope that my retirement is marked by lots of laughing, cooking, singing, playing with people young enough to have more passion for life than me. With that in mind, I found myself passing the military graveyard on the strip to Cabrillo.
The sailboat races run tiny down behind the graveyard.
The alabaster triangles glide across the panorama
Carrying along their cargo, people riding the right winds
But I lower my gaze to the pale stones
Holding down their cargo, people caught up in the wrong ones.
And I descend home
Plunging from the hills and the sky
Like a bird diving for a bath
And as the wind holds me up
I think I must be feeling what the birds feel when they hang in the wind along the bay
Motionless in the sweet juice of life
The LO Ryder is my sail
and I have many more
and I have many more
and no pallid stone will hold us down before our time