I said remember this feeling
I passed the pictures around
Of all the years that we stood there
On the side-lines wishing for right now
We are the Kings and the Queens
You traded your baseball cap for a crown
When they gave us our trophies
And we held them up for our town
And the cynics were outraged
Screaming "this is absurd"
Cause for a moment a band of thieves
In ripped up jeans got to rule the world
|Erik did, in fact, get a crown tattoo two days later to commemorate his OVCX "Cat 4 King" status.|
The picture above represents three things to me: 1) One of my greatest triumphs 2) One of the last happy moments with my once best friend 3) The moment when my real life began.
At the beginning of the 2012 cyclocross season, I was lost. Since my Cat 4 championship the year before, I had been continually beaten down by a project at work and had succumbed to the stress. I came into the season not at all prepared for my ascent into the elite wave. I was going through a very bad period of depression and didn't know where I belonged anymore. As depression has a way of doing, I had become convinced that no one cared about me and that even my supposed friends wouldn't like me if they actually knew the real me. Erik was new to the scene, and he had weird way of treating me like we were already friends as soon as we met. It wasn't the polite way you treat someone that you meet and *want* to be friends with; it was a disconcerting step over that to a relaxed rapport that I just don't have with strangers. Strangely, the polite stage was what had been keeping me at arm's length from people, so being thrown into automatic friend stage was a wake-up call.
Although looking back I think it was just a quirk of his personality, that everyone he meets is automatically his best friend during the time they spend together, it was the wake-up call that changed everything for me. To be reminded of what actual human connection feels like when you've built up walls so thick and so high for your whole adult life is crazy. That is when I started pursuing a life in which that feeling was the rule rather than the exception. As my journey progressed, the rough road ahead became clear and I knew that the person who started me down that road might not make it to the end with me. So last year's Death March was very intentionally a practice run crushing the gravel of life and the chance to seal one last happy memory the person who had inspired it.
After it was over, I knew it was time to quit pretending and move on to building the life I wanted. Unfortunately, I was correct in my fears of losing my friend, but I understand why it had to be that way. Otherwise I probably would have never known how to really depend on myself and the others that have since become my circle of support. I had to give up things that were standing in the way of something better.
Now just days before another Death March, I once again sit poised for everything for which I've been striving to come together, wondering if I will truly be so lucky as to pull it off. Part of me wishes that included success at the race, but if Frank and I end up holding six-packs of Hopslam and grinning for the camera, it will be purely due to luck and/or remnants of the work I put in last year. Really, I'm just hoping that I'll even be able to concentrate on the race at all, as the prize on which my eyes currently rest is greater than symbolic beer and may or may not be in my hands by Saturday.
I'm not going to deny that I'm disappointed in myself for not being able to pull off a successful Death March campaign and major life overhaul all at once. I'm well aware that there is more to life than bike racing, so there's no need to remind me, but I'm sort of ready for this cycling blog to become a cycling blog again, and frankly, I like the taste of symbolic beer. As much as I'll mourn the loss of BCSP as my home trail, part of me does relish the challenge of making friends with the Rothrock rocks once I'm moved to Pennsylvania and to have the biggest obstacles in my life be made of granite. I'm crossing my fingers that those days come sooner rather than later.