“I awoke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain’t it funny how the night moves
When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves….”
— Night Moves by Bob Seger
He awoke this morning from a deep slumber, face down, lines engraved on his face from the pillow. The unemployed, aging cyclist trudged to the bathroom then back to bed for a much-needed snooze after another late night staring at screens. Before the alarm went off, something outside the drafty casita woke him for good this time, and gingerly, he rolled out of bed. Not ready to face the wind and likely rain on his bicycle, he texted a fellow attender of the weekly job club, pleading for a ride. The gangly and kindly grad student (who may or may not have been spying on him for his thesis) agreed.
That arranged, he quickly showered, shaved, brushed his teeth and hair, the latter of which he joked was experiencing deforestation. He got dressed in wrinkled navy Dockers that had printed on the inside lining “ONE LEG AT A TIME,” a button up cornflower blue polo and Vasquez hiking boots. Nothing fancy, but a step above than the usual jeans and t-shirt, the uniform of the chronically unemployed Austin slacker wannabe. He found his dingy red backpack, the one with the hip belt straps cut off that Olivia gave him in West Dummerston, Vermont four years ago. Trudging to the street he got in the car, grunted a hello to his rescuer, and they were off.
The usual 60 or so suspects sat with quiet defeat tinged with hope in the large conference room with the high ceiling. He felt it was too fancy for the jobless horde, but he liked nice. Announcements were made, then the speaker came up. A former chiropractor the dude had already met for a speed coaching session went into his spiel. “He’s nice but I’m not sure he’s helpful or selling snake oil, like all these coaches,” he whispered to his driver.
People laughed and nodded in approval as the speech went on. Dutifully, he took notes, but his mind was elsewhere as usual, daydreaming about his bicycling book, now that the first draft was a quarter done. But then his brow furrowed with worry about money and how getting a job was the antithesis of becoming an author, but most writers had to do both. It literally gave him a headache, because he couldn’t figure out how people did both and still had a life.
Good things were happening with his blog, even though he was writing it less. He got good feedback, especially on the interview. A second interview was happening soon. He was being invited to a lunch to consider a part-time gig working on a bike-related project. The hobbies might have been feeding his soul, but it wasn’t feeding his face. And if there was one thing the dude liked to do, it was to eat, and a bit too much at that.
The meeting broke up and punctured his reverie. His driver was having coffee with the community college guy, so he started walking, as he did for half an hour every day now. Immediately rain came, and he cursed his leaving the poncho at home, but his bright safety yellow windbreaker kept him from gettimg too wet. Finally, he arrived at the transit center, caught one bus, then waited and transferred to another. Walking more to get home, his Garmin watch buzzed at him. He had made his daily step goal, but it didn’t matter, he was in an altered state.
Despite walking over 130 miles so far this year, he wasn’t slimming down. It wasn’t fair, he thought. He’d even given up processed carbs! He changed into something less uncomfortable and made lunch. After eating some leftover beans, corn and brown rice with pork chop slathered in olive oil, spices, salsa and his Achilles heel — delicious, gooey cheese — sleep deprivation caught up with him. He laid down on the top of the made-up bedclothes and was quicly out, worries put at ease, at least for an hour.
Waking groggily but feeling a little better, he made his way down to the mat and did his daily yoga. For over four years he did thirty minutes every single day, even if it was all on the floor. Later, still in an soporific state, he considered his options. Without any concrete plans except to write his thrice weekly blog post, he did what he so often did now that he had Movie Pass: he biked in the burgeoning Texas heat and humidity to a nearby theater. Wim Winders always told stories that evoked a dream state, so he saw the new film, Submergence. It was about the ocean and the desert, love and war, intimacy and separation. The room was virtually empty with only a few other viewers, which suited him just fine.
Biking home, still thinking about the movie, he felt relaxed, a sense of peace. Riding often did that for him. Tooling aimlessly around the neighborhood, he stopped by a grocery store for chocolate, avocadoes and an herbal sleep drink. Immediately, a storm came up. Not a light New England rain, or the gentle mist of Seattle, this was a serious Texas thunderstorm. Buffeted by the winds, getting drenched with no rain gear, he considered a bus or a cab, but dismissed them and pedaled on. Stopped when a gust nearly blew him over. Remounted and stomped harder. Cars flew by a few feet from the bike lane. He got off the main road to seek shelter from trees and houses, but it didn’t help much.
Cursing his choice to not check the hourly weather, bring his poncho, or to stay home, he began laughing. He realized what the speaker had been saying was true. He was overthinking things, and not being in the present moment. His perspective shifted. It was just water, and he wasn’t really in any danger, just discomfort. One reason he biked was because it made him feel like a kid again. Despite his numerous health complaints, biking literally kept his immune system young, and he looked younger than his years, for now. So a little water and wind wasn’t the end of the world. He made it home, cold, uncomfortable, soaking wet — submerged.
Well, I love a rainy night
It’s such a beautiful sight
I love to feel the rain on my face
Taste the rain on my lips
In the moonlight shadow
Puts a song in this heart of mine
Puts a smile on my face every time
— “I Love a Rainy Night” by Eddie Rabbit
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