Sunday, January 11, 2015

Letting Go

His hands are in my hair
His clothes are in my room
And his voice is a familiar sound
Nothing lasts forever
But this is getting good now

It would be an understatement to say that my carefully laid out Death March training plan that I outlined in my last post isn't exactly working out as I had hoped. Since then, we went on an epic holiday trip that included driving from PA to OK to IL and back in ten days. I managed to get in a few good gravel rides over the course of the trip, and I even set out for a 52-mile "rip the Bandaid off" ride the day after we returned. It was honestly pretty awful, as Frank was sick and I have not done a solo pavement ride that long in probably four years. I wanted to get out and get it over with, though, knowing that each successive ride would be less awful and more productive. Or so I thought.

The next day I succumbed to Frank's bug, which had been an unwelcome Christmas present from my mother, but it seemed to hit me faster and harder than it had either of them. After nearly two weeks and three trips to the doctor, I can't say exactly what it was, but the most likely candidate was just a sinus infection that somehow triggered some latent asthma. All I know is that I spent a week unable to sleep in the bed at night without feeling like I was choking and going into violent coughing attacks. It took an inhaler, a round of prednisone, and eventually some antibiotics to finally beat the inflammation in my lungs back into submission. At this point the sickness is more or less gone; I'm just working on recovering from the weak/tired feeling, getting my voice back, and healing the pulled rib muscle that I injured during a particularly bad fit of coughing.

Doctor Visit #1: The Nebulizer
The interesting part was that as the illness dragged on I realized a) I wouldn't be able to ride in the 50 degree temperatures last Sunday b) I wouldn't be making it in work all week, despite needing to prepare for a huge project coming up c) I definitely would not be riding this weekend, either. Through each battle lost I remembered the freedom that comes from physical incapacity. It wasn't as strong as when I had my pancreas surgery a few years ago, but I definitely got to the point where I had to say, "Fine. Whatever happens, happens" in regard to work and Death March preparation. At some point I had to admit that it was beyond my control and there was no point in beating myself up for the setbacks.

This year's Death March campaign was already my way of grabbing at the last straws of perceived control in my life. Now even that is out of my hands, and I feel oddly free. You see, most of the fall was spent worrying about Frank's job search for next year. He applied all kinds of places, and each time I would research the local cyclocross scene, mountain bike trails, etc., so that I could somehow make myself okay with moving there, if needed. He applied to jobs at James Madison University and Appalachian State, so there was a chance that things could actually just fall into place at an okay school in a great mountain biking town, and we would move there and live happily ever after. I never let myself get too attached to that idea, though. I spent my time trying to figure out how I was going to adjust to less-ideal conditions. Then it turned out that he didn't even get a phone interview for any of the jobs, and I was just left with my jaw hanging, as that was the one possibility for which I hadn't prepared.

In some ways, I'm quite happy to stay in State College for another year, but I'm disappointed for him not being able to achieve his goals as quickly as he'd hoped. I'm also anxious because I just want to be on the other side of the uncertainty. I'm more okay with settling down in a place not as good as State College if it's permanent. As it now, I don't want to get too attached. A big part of me just wants to go wherever it is we're going to go and settle down, make friends, buy a house, get married, adopt a dog, and all of that. I want to be done. Then I realize, what are we going to do when we're done?

That is why it is easy to focus on bike racing goals; because they are impermanent in their nature. You put in a few week or months of work, and then what you want happens or it doesn't. Then you move on to the next goal. It was never meant to last. And if, say, a two-week illness messes one up, there's always another.

So I guess my recent imprisonment on the couch has been a good reminder that even when I think I'm in control, I'm not. With both bikes and life, I just need to do the best I can for now and enjoy it while it lasts. Our life here is State College is pretty good, even if it's not what we want in the end. Since I now admittedly have no idea what's going to happen at this point, I guess that also means that "the end" may end up to be some place more awesome than I had could have imagined and totally worth the wait. Either way, it seems that trying to predict the future is not very fruitful, so I'm going to my best to stop trying.

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