My Wobbly Bicycle

My Wobbly Bicycle, 143

Posted by on Oct 8, 2017 in Featured | 8 comments



I’ve been having adventures. This whole last year with Jerry and his back and his hip have been the main adventure, of course. Actually, yes, it is has been that. I sometimes think, when something happens that feels almost unbelievably hard, “Well, I’m getting to add this to my repertoire.” Not exactly repertoire, but Life Lived. Okay, now this. I’ve had a thought that when every blank is filled in, I’ll be done. But there are so many blanks, so much that hasn’t happened to me yet and can’t, because I am only me. I have an inherited filter that says “me,” and only what fits can pass through. Still, it’s interesting.


download-1Case in point: I backed into a parked car in the dark in Harbor Springs and did considerable damage to both my Prius and the other car. (Not quite as bad as this photo).I had to drive a rented giant Chevy Tahoe to Grand Rapids to the airport, biggest damn car I’ve ever driven. Scary. And then I accidentally double-booked a couple of events in D.C.—well, almost. A blessed friend ferried me quickly from one to the other. Point being, I’m staggering. “The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings,” wrote Robert Louis Stevenson.


images-1Jerry’s getting better every day. He has almost no pain. He’s using his stretchy-bands to build muscle, which, heaven knows, he needs. Sometimes when things ease up, whatever it is, I look back and think, “What was all the fuss about? We were either going to live through this or we weren’t.” But that doesn’t matter at the time. The fuss is its own kind of richness. It absorbs the moment. Its intensity has a kind of beauty. You wouldn’t catch me saying that at the time, but even then, at some level, I see it.


While I’ve been traveling—to northern and lower Delaware, to northern Michigan, to D.C., so far, and Baltimore on Tuesday—I think, “I’m too old for this.” My brain works slower, I can tell that, and when I have to make instant decisions, or hear fast-talking flight attendants or Uber drivers, I feel a little woozy (okay, my hearing is bad). Most people my age know what I mean, unless they’ve been living like this all along so it feels normal. Jerry’s and my life together is slow and quiet. I have chosen to do this travel, for my new book, but it’s a lot harder than it would have been 10 years and no cancer ago.


download-2Here’s the thing. Writing is what I do. If someone tied my hands behind my back, I’d write with my teeth. I didn’t cause this to happen. It just is. So if I write, I need to do the work of getting my poems and essays into readers’ hands. If I were wildly famous, I could sit in my mountain hut and write and readers would climb the rocky precipice to receive my honeyed words. However, that is unlikely. So as long as I can, I’ll need to be out there in the world, to some extent. I don’t see this as vanity. I see it as my part in a grand communal act of reading and writing. Sometimes I’m on the reading side, sometimes on the writing side.


Adventures are live, but they’re also written. The deeper I read, the more I appreciate the lives I won’t have time to live for myself.