Can you believe it, I took a day off from work. On Wednesday a friend of mine had planned a bicycle trip north to swim in a lake, and I planned accordingly to not be at work that day. Since I now have 4 undergraduates working for me at the lab, and they are supposed to be replacing me when I leave forever next month, I decided it would be a good exercise for them to do a day on their own. I typed up instructions for each group, was very deliberate, strict and precise with what I wanted done, and closed up Tuesday afternoon.
The next morning was cloudy as Geoff and I rode down to meet our group at Wheeler Park. I packed the remains of my Cheese Beer bread in my pack, brought a bathing suit, a change of socks and some flip-flops, ready for an afternoon at the lake. No one was there at the meeting spot. Geoff and I call the organizer of the trip who told us he decided that it wasn't the kind of weather he was looking for, and we would reschedule. What are two boys to do in this situation? True, it was cloudy, but no where near cold or rainy. We decided to go on our own trip, to go find a place to swim ourselves! Yea! Off to Sparrow for some fruit to bring with us (I sat outside until the coast was clear) and we departed to Dexter with some bananas, nut mix, peaches and of course my bread! It was quite a great ride, the wind, running into great great smooth pavement that made our thin, high-pressure tires sing with pleasant vibrations, nice conversation interjected with periods of focused silent exertion up hills and along side passing cars.
After lunch by the river, we reached Dexter and turned around on Joy road, which is a beautiful lane arched over by tree branches and framed by green farmland and big red barns. This was followed by a ride through a sub development devoid of trees and any life in the large houses. We stood on the hill overlooking the valley, and descended for our final trip home down Huron River Drive. Towards town, the road was seriously closed, completely closed with paving equipment and tar, so we circumvented that obstacle on some dirt roads, ending up at the end of the paved trail that runs along the Huron from the dam near Main Street. Coming out of the woods on my road bike, I slipped and fell. A bloody knee was exactly the kind of trophy I wanted for that day, I thought, as I brushed myself off and looked to my right. A small rail-road bridge. I had hung out there with some older kids when I was a sophomore once, and we walked out over it to check out the view. We hadn't gone swimming yet, we realized as we looked at the water from the iron bridge. To our right, someone had painted the word "Jump" on the edge, with arrows pointing out into the open air. So we stared at the word, then back at the water, back to the word, then finally at each other. We had to. As far as I was concerned, I was still in College, being in this town.
Stripping out of our clothes and throwing our shoes down to the bank, we stood on the edge of the bridge. The sun had long come out and the gravel was hot beneath our feet, sweat dried in our hair, my knee oozed blood. We knew that life was here, life was in that free fall that awaited us, accompanied by a yelp of glee and surprise at just how high up and overwhelming our push out into freedom really was. GASP! I jump in first, the feeling of my stomach in my throat so familiar and yet so welcome, so so wonderful. The water amazing, refreshing, the current gentle yet noticeable, Geoff following in after me we yelled in echoing triumph under the steel bridge, climbing out of the water and feeling pretty happy with ourselves. How adventurous, how stimulated our friendship, how wonderful that the sun did end up coming out. The ride home slow and reflecting. A simultaneous feeling of satisfaction and excitement, youth and independence.
I told this story to my mother who howled with laughter at the fact that not only were we told to jump in, it was actually written there! Those words were there at the beginning of our ride, waiting. She also said it was a pretty big deal that we didn't let anyone impede our desire of wanting to swim or go for a bike ride. We created an event ourselves after almost being denied.
Haha as we rode towards Dexter we celebrated the bicycle, the machine of one man, powering himself towards his future, towards the moment of weightlessness that is and remains to become his lost little life.