The Bike Ride
For the past few days, southern New Jersey has experienced a well-deserved reprieve from the suffocating heat and humidity that typically grips the region this time of year. Much to my husband Bob's objection, (he's not opposed to fresh air, just the insects that come with it) I threw open the windows, turned off the air conditioner, and allowed the beautiful breeze to systematically spread throughout our home.
Stuck inside for most of my daily routine, I longed to experience the great outdoors before the weather folks warned, once again, of the return of a sweat-inducing, oppressive, furnace-like forecast.
After dropping off my 14-year old daughter Melissa at her evening summer drama camp, I tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Bob to join me for an outdoor bike ride. He declined, explaining that insects live outdoors, and he lives indoors, and if they don't enter his world, he will kindly return the favor. So, while Bob opted for his indoor exercise bike, I pulled open the garage, dusted off my helmet, pushed up the kick stand, and pedaled away.
As the cool air blew upon my face, I began to relax a bit and allow my brain's revolving to do list to pause for a few moments. It had been a day of different hats for me. In the morning, with my "mommy" hat firmly in place, I took Melissa to a doctor's appointment, where, instead of worrying about her, I worried about the "professional" hat I had planned to place back on my head that afternoon when I returned to the office.
However, a call from my sister Bev the night before changed my plans. My mom had been taken to the emergency room, in need of gallbladder surgery. I let my office know I needed to take a personal day, and would return to greet my work load tomorrow.
So, after visiting the doctor, stopping for a few things in the supermarket, eating a quick lunch, kissing Bob goodbye and dropping Melissa and her friend off at the local pool, I dug deep into my emotional baggage and put on my "daughter" hat.
Upon arrival at the hospital I learned that a respiratory infection had delayed the surgery for 24 hours. I spent a few hours at the hospital, sitting by my mom's side, and chatting with my dad and sister. She'll have her gallbladder removed tomorrow and I'm sure everything will be fine, but still....I worry. What daughter wouldn't?
I pedaled up the minor incline of my street to the corner, happy that months of using the indoor exercise bike had left me in better physical shape than the previous summer. My journey took me to Main Street in the quaint little town of Medford, New Jersey, where I paused to relish in the things I never noticed during the countless times I'd driven down this stretch of road. A tree-lined stream that flowed under an ancient bridge, a family of ducks in search of food, a lone park bench at the foot of a hill, and historic homes decked in red, white, and blue in preparation for Independence Day. Suddenly, I threw all of my hats away and replaced them with a photographer's cap. I pulled out my cell phone, switched it to picture mode, and silently followed the ducks, hoping to frame the perfect shot.
I'm not sure how long I stood there, snapping away, savoring the images of my home town. All I know is, while capturing the beauty of every life, my every day life was kept temporarily at bay.
Finally, thinking Bob might start to worry, I reluctantly made the return trip. I put away my bike, walked through the front door, took off my helmet, replaced it with my "wife" hat, sank onto the couch and wrapped my arms around my husband.
It had been a good ride.
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