I’m such a pussy.
Or at least shy. Is shy a better word?
I can make all sorts of excuses for myself. I’ve endless excuses. I just wish I didn’t have to come up with excuses. I wish I’d just do the things I want to do. There’s just this one area of my life I seem to be having trouble with that in right now…
So, okay. Last night I spent a couple of hours bending steel, and then today my grandfather and I were working for a while on cutting and grinding and bending steel. We’re just about done with that part of the operation and about ready to start the welding part of the operation that will turn the bits and pieces of steel we’ve been working with into a security door and two sets of bars for windows. But since we worked for over an hour today, grandfather will probably be beat for several days, so we probably won’t get back to work on it until I get back to town next weekend.
Okay, so. I’m going to be heading into Phoenix Monday with my grandparents and then staying with my dad through Thursday or Friday. I’m going to be seeing a midnight showing of The Matrix Reloaded, Wednesday night, May 14th at the Harkins North Valley Theatre. I’m also going to be seeing The Matrix Reloaded at least once more in theatres, probably on the afternoon of Thursday, May 15th.
If you would like to try to see me (I sure would like to get a chance to see you!) while I am in town, please just let me know. If we have plans in advance, most everything else can be worked around them. Everything else including, in this case, helping my father try to finish a large portion of the remodeling that needs to be done to the house. He is theoretically working all this week to be sure that we’re ready to work on Monday, instead of still getting ready to work on Monday. But he’s glad to work around my plans to see my friends, if I let him know what they are. So. Let me know what they are.
Today I went for a bicycle ride for the first time since I moved to Pine. I knew my legs would be out of practice, and I knew the air would be less oxygen-rich, but I thought I’d try anyway. Now, as my grandfather likes to say, it doesn’t matter where you’re going around here, it’s uphill both ways. I have never done much hill-riding, but I do have a ‘racing’ bike with 21 speeds and I was confident that some of them must be suited for inclines. And they are. I had about an hour available to ride between when grampa got too tired and when we were supposed to leave for supper (well, almost two hours, but it takes time to get ready to ride and time to get ready for supper, so I really had an hour for riding), so I decided to just go down to Hardscrabble road (just a couple of blocks from here) and ride along it and see where it took me. I set my phone to alert me after 38 minutes, thinking I could stretch my hour to 75 minutes, and that I shouldn’t go farther than I could get back from in time. And I rode, and for the first time in the thousands of miles I’ve ridden on this bike, I had to downshift. But my legs are still strong. I climb up and down steep stairs many, many times a day here. So I was riding along, and the road went from asphalt to hardscrabble. Which I seemed to be able to ride on. It’s basically a good dirt road with plenty of rock to make it hard enough to resist major erosion. And plenty of loose gravel throughout. And then I was in the National Forest land, and heading pretty steeply up. And my bike, which is a road bike and has thin tires with no tread, seemed to be doing okay on the hardscrabble. And my legs seemed to be doing okay with the increasingly steep incline. But my body kept telling me I wasn’t getting enough air. I was practically hyperventilating, taking rapid deep breaths constantly and only moving forward slowly, in the lowest gear, but my legs weren’t anywhere near the end of their stamina. But my blood must have been, because I kept having to stop just to breathe for a while. And every time I did I noticed the incline a little more, and every time I tried to restart I’d have a heck of a time not just falling over backwards. But I was getting closer and closer to the top, I could see the valley sinking down below me, and I could see the highest trees getting closer and closer to my eye level, and my phone hadn’t gone off yet, so I kept ascending. I kept thinking that perhaps I ought to just walk the bike up this next steep section, but I never walked it up, I knew I could do it on my bike. And then instead of just being out of breath, I started coughing. And my lungs started burning, even just standing still breathing. And I started belching (though that may have had more to do with the day-old potato salad we had for lunch today). And my legs still weren’t tired. Luckily, my phone went off. I was 38 minutes up the hill. So I turned around. And even just turning around my bike almost got away from me and the hill seemed a lot steeper facing down than it had when I was working my way up it. And I didn’t even want to begin risking riding down, so I got off and started walking down. And as I began walking my bike down the gravity of the situation began to become apparent. That is, my natural forward momentum due to the incline quickly turned my walk into a near-run and then a run, and I almost couldn’t slow down if I tried. On foot. With shoes with plenty of traction. And my bike, even at walking speeds, was bouncing quite a bit. Perhaps because I was not riding it, but also because the road was so bumpy. And I knew that if I were going down the hill with any speed and hit a big bump, whooosh, there I would go. And I walked and walked until I got to a section of the road that seemed flat, and got on my bike to ride for a bit, until I came to the next down-part. Except that it must have been a perception trick that it seemed flat, because before I could even think to pedal I was going. Fast. And I braked, and on this ground that seemed flat compared to the incline I had just been on I had to brake almost constantly to stay in control. And then I was braking too hard or whatever, and my wheels started skidding on the hardscrabble. But I stopped and was able to land on my feet and not lose the bike down the hill. And I walked some more. And I thought about how long it might take me to get down the hill walking, and I set my phone to alert me after the full hour had passed, knowing that that would mean I probably had at most 15 minutes slack to get home, and if I wasn’t at least off the damned hardscrabble, I probably ought to call my grandfather and let him know what was going on and that I’d be later than I thought. And I kept walking down. And it seemed like it was taking forever. And eventually I got to a part of the hill where it was not insanely steep and was able (with only 80%-90% constant braking) to ride down the hardscrabble and keep a slow enough pace that I only thought I’d lose control around one of the corners. And then I was off the hardscrabble and STILL going downhill, but on the asphalt, my tires were at home, so I let my speed get up to around 25-30MPH with controlled braking as I coasted down the hill. And there was some uphill, but mostly that just helped take some stress of my brakes. And I rode on the wrong side of the road for the couple of blocks back to where I live, and as I was approaching the gate, my phone went off. The hour was up.
And then we went to dinner in Payson. And instead of going to the Bee Line Cafe where we have gone to their Friday Fish dinner special a dozen times, and several other times to boot, we went to El Rancho Mexican Restaurant. Which was a nice change of pace. We’d been there before, once, and it seemed nice enough, and there was a waitress there that I found attractive who seemed to smile at me. And then tonight she was our waitress, and she definitely smiled at me. And I smiled back. All through our meal I kept watching for her, admiring her, hoping to catch her eye and smile, and a couple of times I did, and she smiled back. And my grandmother saw even the first smile, when she was just taking our order, and harrassed me all through supper about ‘flirting with the waitress’. And I don’t know… I don’t feel I could have done more than I did in front of my grandparents… something about sitting there having supper with them made it seem weird that I might try to ask the waitress for her name, her number, or out sometime… And I thought of trying to slip away from my grandparents and somehow attract her attention and do it, but … I didn’t. And I thought of several ways I could have given her my number, but … I didn’t. And when she refilled my water, she leaned in close, and she smelled great and smiled big, and all I could say was ‘thank you’. And eventually the meal was over and it was time to leave… and I’m the one who wheels grandmother around in her wheelchair, so from then on there wasn’t much I could have done, but … I don’t know. I feel like such a coward. And I give myself all sorts of excuses… I don’t have a car, and she probably lives there in Payson, so how would we get together for a date or whatever? Except I could probably borrow my grandparent’s Chevy Tracker. And I don’t have any real source of income so how could I afford to go on a date? Except that I’m still on unemployment, so I do have SOME money coming in. And then there’s the other problems… the things about me that bother just about everyone new… Except what if they don’t bother her, or what if I can be a normal human being for a change?
But none of the excuses and none of their counterpoints matter, because I froze. I smiled, she smiled back, but I did nothing. I don’t even know her name. What an ass. What a failure. Why am I this way? Why can’t I overcome this? I got along fine with the iron working today, why can’t I ask a pretty young woman her name? Gha.