My Wobbly Bicycle, 164

Posted by on Jan 31, 2019 | 7 comments

I was playing around with Google Earth, zooming in on the street I lived on many years ago in Arkansas (so changed!)  Then I picked my current Traverse City address and watched the pointer take off into the sky like a little red rocket, Arkansas grow tiny and distant, and I land, breathless, among the spires of the Commons, where we live. It’s dizzying. You land and fly, the earth rotates at your whim.


I get on a plane in a lull between snowstorms, wait on the runway while the de-icer circles and circles for what seems like 45 minutes, then several hours later I land in Cancun. It is balmy, humid after a shower, around 80 degrees. A few days later I return to Traverse City in a blessed lull before another huge snow. Jerry picks me up, my boots and gloves in his car so I can endure even the short walk into our building. Today it’s 1 degree.

Time and space are so weird. It was a lot easier to convince ourselves that they had some concrete meaning ,before we could space-travel like that. Before Einstein, it seemed that If we flew far enough into space, well, that we could still keep sensible time, if the observer could somehow stand on a fixed point, like a pin.

Cancun, you say? Kelly and Scott, my two children, and I took a little vacation, just for us. Just being with them is time travel. If we really, really saw how strange life is—there was nothing. (I started to write, “First” there was nothing, but there was no first. I can’t trace back far enough to find a nothing.) Then there were my babies, and now there are these grown people, getting wrinkles and a beard. (Scott, that is.) We text each other from room to room. My father checks in with me from Northern Michigan. There is no space. And time is like a telescope that you can turn around and look in either end.


The sun shone the day we got there. It was a little chilly and very windy, but we swam in the ocean. Good thing, because after that it poured almost the whole time. In the brief interstices, we took walks and swam in the many pools of our gorgeous, luxurious resort. We ate. We had our complimentary 45-minute hydrotherapy session. We talked.


I think talking is how we resolve the insanity of time and space so we can live with it. “Once Upon a Time” is how we make up a starting place. The three of us, well, we share a lot of past difficulty. We’ve washed up here on this beautiful beach after a mighty storm. Here we are, making a now, in which pterodactyl-looking large birds with split tails gather and disperse. I look them up. They’re swallow-tail kites. We walk far down the beach, pick up what I think is a sea grape on the sand. We don’t have our phones, so we can’t look it up. Kelly squishes it and water spurts out. A man is windsurfing. He lifts off and lands, does a fierce dance in the hard wind.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says “Time is defined to make motion look simple. You can’t describe motion without some reference to time.” The way he puts it, time makes us all a prisoner of the present, forever transitioning from our own past into an unknown future.”

Astronomers invented timekeeping. You could say they invented time. As long as you have sun and moon rising and setting, birthdays, births and deaths, as long as you have things that repeat, he says “you can keep track of time even if you have no freaking idea what’s going on.”

I have no idea what’s going on. Images of how it used to be float in my mind, but they shift and morph. My children, my grandchildren, are different every time I see them. I’m different. We have our ideas of each other. We are crazy about each other. It’s like being crazy about the waves. That guy out there, holding on for dear life to his harness is crazy about what he’s doing. He may be just plain crazy. But  it looks like he’s having a good time, playing with the whitecapped sea.

P.S. I am so sorry not to have accepted the comments on my last post more quickly, so they became visible. The new format makes me have to go look for your comments instead of notifying me when they’re posted. I’ll try to do better.





  1. These entries are gems. They speak to me and lift me up! Miss you, Fleda, and Jerry too. Love, Maria

    • Thank you, Maria. We miss you, too, and we say next time we’re D.C. direction, we’ll make sure to see you.

  2. Sounds like it was great, dearest Fleda. As you know, while most people go south when it’s cold (we had-22 last week in our part of Vermont), we tend to go north to our Maine camp. Given my two knee replacements –all better now– and Robin’s more recent rotator cuff surgery, which has a much more tedious rehab, we have fantasized about a southern jaunt. Maybe I’ll pick your brain soon. Meanwhile, love to your household from ours.

    • Thank you, dear one. It all depends upon what sort of break you want. The resort was absolutely spotless, wonderful service, great food. I can’t say enough good about it, but after 3 days, you might want to break out. I’d say it’s the kind of place you go for a little pure pampering and rejuvenation. Not for an adventure.

  3. I think that I will send this on to my Arkansas sons who will remember Scott and Kelly. Sounds like a wonderful trip.

    • Yep. Brian and Tim are probably a bit older, too. 🙂

  4. Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future. ~Gail Lumet Buckley

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