I was reminiscing some memorable moments in my life last night. These pleasing memories are of relatively simple events where something spontaneous happened, and everything seemed to click like magic for just a few hours. These are the moments I cherish most, and I spend most my time chasing them down again. When they happen, you don't always know they're happening (it's part of what makes it so wonderful) but you also don't realize how wonderful that moment is right then and there. You feel like it's normal and happens all the time.
One of these moments was during my first year of graduate school (when I used to go out). I went out with a small group of friends to celebrate a friend's birthday on a quiet Thursday night in the middle of December. I remember that it was chilly and dark. We went to a little pub down the street and sat around the table talking and drinking. It doesn't seem that eventful, but for some reason, I had more fun that night than I can remember having in a long time. It wasn't what we did but everything at that moment just seemed to click. It was the first (and last) time I did tequila shots. We went to a dance club and danced like fools. No one else was there. It was so much fun to have the whole club to ourselves. Because there were no expectations, there was no anxiety, and everything was natural and smooth. That was a great night.
The second spontaneous experience was my first Bicycle Fun Club ride. I was nervous because I went by myself to this strange place to go on a strange bike ride with hundreds of strangers. Everyone was very friendly and it became a lot of fun right away. There was a short, middle, and long route. We began by taking the ferry across the Mississippi. The water was clean and calm and egrets and hawks sat amongst the trees on the banks. Some hard-core bicyclists teased me about my body marking (numbering from a race on the arm and leg) left over from a triathlon the day before. I remeber thinking it was odd that a "triathlon prejudice" existed.
After we reached the other side, I decided to do the middle distance, about 35 miles. I set out and biked alone for the first part. Soon, I realized I was going the same pace as a guy next to me. I would pass him, then he would pass me, and so forth. This went on for a mile or two. I pulled up next to him and introduced myself. He removed his headphones, and we started up a conversation. He was very friendly, and it was definitely more fun to ride with someone than alone so we decided to ride together.
His name was Gary. He was middle-aged and worked in construction as a welder. He used to smoke and had been inactive but then he developed heart problems. He now was addicted to his bike. He had a pacemaker and was tough as nails. He was doing the long ride and convinced me to go the distance with him. His story amazed me. He had found an activity he was passionate about and that was keeping him young. I couldn't believe how he tackled the hills (and there were several killers on that ride). I worried that he might have problems because of his heart, but he hung in there. We took breaks here and there, but I was grateful for the rest (although I didn't admit that I needed them). It was such an incredible, magical afternoon. We were very comfortable riding alongside each other, talking about our respective lives and significant others.
I think it's amazing how activities, like cycling, can bring people together who would never talk or meet under normal circumstances. Where else in my life would I meet a guy like Gary? It was so refreshing and enlightening to meet someone new. I encourage everyone out there to try new things and meet new people. It may just surprise you. And, Gary, wherever you are out there, thank you. I hope you're doing well.