Living in transition

This week is a taper week. Its killing me. I’m supposed to take it easy for every workout. I just want to get out on my mountain bike and hammer it hard. I even dream of hammering, ripping my legs to shreds. I love the feeling of getting home after a hard ride or run and sitting down on the carpet with a recovery drinks that tastes like a mix of my own fecal matter (and looks it to) and stretching my sore legs out.

On Sunday is Power sprint triathlon in Richmond. This will be my third time racing it. Both times I finished third overall. I hope for something more this year, but with the athletes on my team having outdone me earlier in the season, that goal may be difficult. I have started off slow this season and I hope this will be my break through race. Rocketts turned out to not be that race so maybe this one will.

It is my birthday on Saturday but my mom and I decided to shift it to Sunday so that I will be able to eat cake. My new backpack for hiking the Appalachian trail will come in soon and so will my new Kazane road bike frame.

The day of Powersprint there is also a cycling race in Richmond. I may attempt to race the afternoon race after my triathlon. If I do not do well in the tri I may want to race again to redeem myself. Graeme Obree set the World one hour record on sore legs the day after his first attempt. Maybe I could do that on a lesser scale.

For now I run

My shadow is always faster than me. No matter what, he starts from behind, runs along side me for a moment, and then passes with no effort. I guess he is weightless after all, that probably helps.

The light taps of me feet fades from my attention easily. The taps are unnoticed by some and startle them. I pass by dogs in their fences without waking them.

I feel my shoulders loose, float back and forth, back and forth a thousand times.

My legs gently float underneath me and I simply glide on the surface of the road. Pit-pat, pit-pat. Effortlessly I pass by the silent world around me.

My light huffing can be silenced if I concentrate but its rhythm keeps me on track.

I run in the middle of the two lanes, staring into the distance. There are no cars. During the day I would be plastered on the road by now, probably no more than an inch thick. But now it’s peaceful. Between the streetlights I have no shadow. I run alone. Pit-pat.

People sometimes ask me if I get lonely. I simply remind them of how I was the baby that when woke, would lay in the crib for hours with no crying. I was the child that when I received a K-nex set for Christmas or my birthday, the construction would take place for hours straight, sometimes through the night, until the pieces formed a masterpiece. At school this year I had few refuges to which I could enjoy the company of solely myself. And even at home it seems the story is no different. In the city I cannot be alone while running unless I do it at night.

I am no hermit. I love people. I love company. But sometimes company does not need to be defined by human interaction. The world is a beautiful playground and our desire for constant interaction blinds us from that sometimes. If we are not with people, we are playing with our electronics. I admit I am just the same sometimes.

But for now I run alone. Some of the things I have seen humans do overwhelms me with fear. And for now I am incapable of grasping the corruption in the human race. So for now I run away. Maybe in time I will see. Maybe in time I will realize whether life is just a game like it seems through so many college students eyes. Life does not seem like a game though. It seems real, with real consequences, and real problems. So I wonder what my place is. Seeing as interaction is only bringing me stress, maybe solitude will bring an answer.

Maggie and me


About seven years ago my family decided we had waited long enough after our last dog’s passing.

We found the perfect dog quickly. She was a long haired dachshund with a fiery temper and a total disinterest in us. To be honest I have absolutely no idea what attracted us to her. We brought her home on my brother’s birthday, soon to be declared a shared birthday. We did not know her age but we estimate she was about seven.

She, having been a dog solely used for breeding for most of her life, was not accustomed to the ways of a house. She could absolutely care less about what we wanted. We would call “Come here Maggie!” and she would glance out of the corner of her eye at us, and continue about her business. If we tried to pick her up against her will, she never hesitated to express herself less than peaceful.

Needless to say, she warmed up to us quickly. She fit right in. She was short, we’re all short. A match made in heaven. The disinterest in listening to us never stopped though. She was her own dog and she did what she wanted to do. We respected that and she usually respected not to push our tolerance.

Often I would here my mom calling up to me that Maggie had run away and she needed my help to go get her. The word run is not very fitting for those occasions however. Maggie typically would mozie off at a pace that could barely be called walking. Typically we would find her the next house down and even once she had not even ventured off our property. She could be gone for an hour and would only be a block down. Her sniffing was always the hold up. Walking her was torture because of her inability to leave a scent unsmelled.

Before Maggie grew into the family she did find it amusing to make a legitimate break for it occasionally. Thankfully she was a stocky fat little girl and while her leg length to speed ratio far outdid ours, we could always chase her down. One time my dad, my brother and I decided to let her off the leash on the beach. She was scared to death of water so we knew that wasn’t an outlet, and there was a wall on the land side of the beach. My brother and I waited a hundred yards down the beach while my dad let the beast off her leash. Unrestricted, she booked it right at us and thinking we had her trapped, she juked us out at the last second. I ended up tackling her later on down the beach to prevent the true escape of Maggie Cobb.

But soon she was conscious of how great life was with us. She loved it. She loved every second of it. One year after a snow storm my sister and I played in the snow with Maggie. She always seemed to get a thrill of walking around in things that were taller that her. She loved monkey grass I guess for the thrill of a jungle like exploration. Everything’s bigger when you’re a foot tall. She absolutely loved the snow, at least until she ran smack into the curb. She stood up shook herself off, looked up at me as if to say “What, you mean to tell me you’ve never walked into anything?” This was a routine she had already established from leaf piles on the side of the road.

She had an attitude to her that I’ve never seen in an animal. She was a royal princess. She had the life of a princess, that’s for sure. She got to visit the Florida keys, Snowshoe, and Virginia Beach regularly for extended stays. And she loved it. She loved the thrill of new sniffs, and new territories to roam and new animals to chase. In Florida she got to chase me and my dad around the dock trying to catch our newly caught fish. At the beach she chased seagulls with an absolute vengeance set on catching those birds. In snowshoe the deer supplied her with a days full of barks.

One winter at Snowshoe, when my dad released the beast for her regular chasing of the deer, a deer decided this puny dog wasn’t worth running from. After the deer stomped its foot at Maggie, she returned inside with a sore pride. I could not let this down. After seeing my dog walk around the house for days with her head down, unwilling to chase or even bark at the deer outside, I decided to do justice to the deer that commited this crime against my little sister. I ran out the front door just as she usually would and chased them into the woods. Justice was served. Law was restored on the Cobb premices at Snowshoe. I returned back in a gave Maggie an extended belly rub, our version of a high five.

Maggie had an obsession with belly rubs. I swear I saw her on her back more than I did on her feet. Maybe my family just gives wicked good belly rubs, I don’t know. Sometimes to keep Maggie on her toes, my mom would give me a belly rub instead of Maggie. I know, I know criminal. Maggie would walk up and lay her head on my stomach, looking up at my mom with sad puppy dog eyes. If my mom would continue, she would make her best attempt at interfering with the action of belly rubbing, typically by standing ontop of me. If that did not work, she would harrass my mom with barking and glaring. It wouldn’t take long for the sympathy of me and my mom to outweigh our silliness.

Honeslty, the dog had mastered the art of the glare. She would turn her head to the side and look at you out of the corner of her eye. I’ve never been so intimidated in my life, not even by a human, as when that dog would glare at me.

But just as that dog was out to protect the law of unlimited belly rubs solely for her, she felt the need to prevent fights in the house. We initially discovered Maggie’s upholding of the law of the house when my dad gave a very rare and unexpected hug to my mom. Maggie was appalled! What was this thing he was doing to her mother? Was he hurting her? Maggie ran up and in a barking fury, nipped at my dad’s socks. So, being the cruel jokesters we are, we took advantage of Maggie’s vigilante trait. My dad would fake beat on me while I would scream for the help of the one and only John Wayne in our house. Maggie would run to my rescue, and sometimes not knowing who the true victim was, she would nip at my ankles. Geez she needed to understand fair trial before punishment.

Headstrong as she was, she felt no intimidation from her worst enemy. Joggers and bicyclists. Those jerks. I always loved seeing Maggie scare joggers and cyclists. Call me sick but I call them pansies.. At a foot high she probably couldn’t even give a bruise with her old lady teeth. Yet with absolutely no hint of fear, her short dog’s complex would set in and she would defend her turf, which seemed to be about every square inch as far as her eyes could see wherever she may be.

One of the many times her fearlessness brought her trouble, her height actually saved her life. My brother and I were walking her around our neighborhood and with a retractable leash, she was able to have some sense of freedom. A cyclist rode by and while I was quick enough to push the button to stop her from eating spokes, she was already a good enough distance to eat the underside of a following car. I though for sure my dog was dead, but she came up from behind the right front wheel unscathed. Stunned, but unharmed she stumbled away, looking back at the car like it was something she had never seen before.

For my senior spring break, my mom and dad, Maggie and I all road tripped it to the Florida keys. An old maid, Maggie acted like a puppy the whole week. She ran back and forth on the dock as I reeled in fish and jumped clear into the air trying to catch the hooked fish flying above her head. She had a countless number of rides in the golf cart, ears flapping in the wind. And she sure enjoyed her sniffing raids, scanning all the neighborhood’s smells at a block an hour. She loved it. And she saved the best for last.

There was no fade out in Maggie’s life. She lived till she died. On the drive home, with a simple yelp, she was gone.

Tonight I watched the movie “Marley and Me”. Laughing at all the antics of Marley, I sat there with my hand on one of my two new crazy nutcase dogs. Much of my giggling was at relating Marley’s antics to those of my new dogs. However, towards the end of the movie the lives of the two dogs laying with me became irrelevant. I could not relate the movie to them anymore. All I could think about now was Maggie.

I stood up and left. I miss Maggie. I miss her terribly. While I would never forget Maggie, I wish I could say I appreciate the joy she brought to me when she was with me and leave it at that. I miss the long haired dachshund that I grew up with for seven years. I miss her sass and I miss her stubbornness. I miss the princess that the house revolved around. And I miss my protector, my vigilante dog that protected me against all that’s wrong, and some that’s perfectly okay, in the world. I miss the dog that whenever I was upset, she knew it and she would sit with me, looking into my teary eyes with a look so compassionate that I couldn’t help but feel better. I miss coming home from school and knowing my absolute first responsibility was to serve the upside down dog laying on the floor.

George in “It’s a Wonderful Life” learned to appreciate the things he has rather than thinking about all that he has lost. And while I wish I could say I am as wise as George, I admit I am not quite there. Jimmy Stewart probably wished he could say he was as wise as the character he once played. And yet Stewart recited on Johnny Carson’s stage a poem he wrote about a dog named Beau. The poem ends just as the occasion always does. “And now he’s dead. And there are nights I think I feel him climb upon our bed, and lie between us, and I pat his head. And there are nights when I think I feel that stare, and I reach out my hand to stroke his hair, and he’s not there. Oh how I wish that wasn’t so. I’ll always love a dog named Beau.”

I wish I could say I have moved on. I wish I could say I accept reality and solely appreciate what I have here with me in addition to those memories of things that have passed. I wish, but if I said I was that wise, I’d only be lying. I miss a dog named Maggie.

Rockett’s Landing tri turn Du

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP Bang!

Why do I do this sport? It’s five in the morning and I’m supposed to get out bed and go race my hardest for over two hours. I cannot think of an answer. Like I said, it’s five in the morning and at this point I’m not very sure if anything is worth waking up this early.
As I’m driving to the race start I look at all the crap and litter and realize that all that flows downstream into the river nearby. This is the same river that I am going to be swimming in an hour from now. Why do I do this sport?
I get to the race site and its not dark out. That’s a pleasant surprise. Mind you there is nothing to be seen above but dark storm clouds and its drizzling. Why do I do this sport?
I get to the swim start, ready to race. I look at people warming up and they aren’t going anywhere. An endless pool. A treadmill of water. Great. Why do I do this sport?
The race director recognizes the difficulty of swimming upstream in a river where our pace is slower than the current and changes the course. Now we swim up the river fifty meters, turn out left to cross the river, and head back diagonal across the river to return. Only a 350 meter swim when originally it was supposed to be 1500.
We stand on the dock for the start and the floating dock sinks. This is getting interesting. So half the wave jumps in the river and the other half is on the dock or on the stairs leading down to the dock. We get to the first buoy as a huge pack. Imagine a highway the width of I=95 through D.C. without lane-lines during rush hour and everyone for some reason decides they want to exit at the same exit. That is a triathlon swim around a turn buoy. The only difference is that it’s a bunch of your friends…but thankfully everyone looks the same in a wetsuit and swim cap, or else I would not have many triathlete friends after the race.
Kill or be killed. That is a triathlon swim.
The race director told us that swimming upstream diagonally would take us across. Most everyone underestimates the degree of ‘diagonal’ and we all end up downstream of the next buoy by 50 meters or for some even more. Sprinting for my life, I made it up to the buoy, only to be caught hanging around the line like a dead body. After swallowing a mouthful of water I managed to untangle myself.
I aimed straight across the river about fifty meters above the swim finish hoping that would take me to my destination. However, many people were still on their way out to the buoy. So after head butting several slower swimmers, I made it to the dock only to find they had cancelled the swim. I looked out on the river and could understand why. Many swimmers had turned around soon after starting, just giving up. Most of the swimmers were still out in the water, scattered everywhere, many of them good distances down river. The kayaks in the water were crowded with swimmers grabbing hold. It was an absolute disaster. If the strongest wave of swimmers in the race couldn’t make it, there is no way the next two waves could make it.
An hour later a replacement duathlon began. I held top ten until late in the bike. Nutritionally I messed up big time. I only consumed 180 calories and I was supposed to have 500. I was running low on electrolytes and calories. At around mile seventeen on the twenty-five mile bike my quads were cramping big time.
I pulled myself together mentally, got more calories and electrolytes on the run and finished strong. I spent the final mile of the race chasing a guy that was hundreds of meters ahead of me. I caught him just before the last turn. Later my coach told me of his epic sprint to the finish to beat our friend by a mere second.
That is why I do this sport. Man versus man. Competition. Natural selection in essence. The stronger man wins. It is a test of pure strength, mentally, physically, emotionally. Whoever holds themselves together wins. Whoever wants it more wins. My coach held himself together better than the other guy. That is why triathlon is so epic. It is not tactical. It is a test of pure strength and willpower.
Cycling races are completely different. The man who wins cycling races is not always the one who is the strongest. With cycling, the tactical element comes into play. That adds a new level of excitement. But the two are completely different animals and I love to do both. Triathlon because the strongest man wins and cycling because the smartest, savviest, and relatively strongest man wins.

That is why I do this sport.

Solitude

Fezzari

A few months ago I enjoyed my first ride on my new mountain bike. The Fezzari Solitude. I had done my research, and while other mountain bikes had criticisms in at least every other review, I could not find one single review that remarked negatively on the performance of a Fezzari bike.

It was not that the reviews were not there, or that the critiquing riders were unknowledgable and inexperienced. I found that there were more people riding on Fezzari bikes than I initially thought. I had no trouble finding reviews, but try as I might to find a way to criticize the company, I could not find any reason to not run to my local bike shop and buy one right away.

Trouble was, there are no dealers I know of. Fezzari sells direct though. No problem, they don’t sell retail pricing. So I don’t need to be a dealer to get the direct price. So I was wondering what the catch was. I went to mtbr.com, to find a reason why these bikes could sell for so cheap and be so greatly reviewed. It was a futile search and I threw up the white flag and realized that Fezzari was legit.

Through a couple weeks of bad weather, my beautiful clean carbon hard tail sat in my dorm room, unridden. I wanted to ride it so badly but I knew if I rode I would destroy the wet trails. My patience running at its end, the sun shone through the clouds and I pulled out my dusty mountain biking shoes. I was out the door headed towards unknown trails with no map. I didn’t care. I had a new bike that needed testing.

First thing I noticed was the responsiveness. I felt like I was pulling G’s every time I pushed down on the pedals. I felt like I was going to fall off the bike every time I accelerated. It was not that I got any stronger eating twinkies and watching movies all winter. I was shocked, and stubborn as I am, I still did not want to admit that I could have gone so long without knowing of this great bike company.

But once I hit the trails and headed uphill i could not lie to myself anymore. I was riding on a crazy advanced piece of machinery. I have ridden a Felt DA and a specialized S-works and did not feel this same kind of unworthiness. Fezzari had hit on every factor of bike building and had succeeded in mastering every element. There was nothing I could find that was wrong with this bike. It’s paint job was even sweet.

No longer a skeptic, I crested the mountain and turned downhill only to discover a new feature. I started down the mountain and although I knew I was not pedaling, by the immediate acceleration, I could have sworn something was pushing me. The darn thing felt like it was motorized. Scared at first, thanking god for these sweet xt brakes, I held my speed under control.

Soon though I realized I had nothing to fear. As I became more and more comfortable I realized I could corner on this bike at much higher speeds with much more control than on my old bike. I was absolutely and utterly ecstatic.

When I got back to my dorm room my roommate must have thought I just met the girl of my dreams. Call me a bike geek but this was better. Knowing absolutely nothing about bikes, he still could understand how awesome this bike is. It doesn’t take a genius to know a nice bike when it accelerates like a drag racer, corners like an Indy car, and is as light as a track bike.

I was in love. And after many, many rides, I am still in love. The girl of my dreams can hold on because I’m busy mountain biking. I look forward to even the most daunting of cycling workouts just as long as I get to ride on my Fezzari Solitude.

I just can’t wait to race on the thing. Last year I won the Xterra Sport in Richmond on my clunker. I think in racing, the name “Solitude” might express itself in more than just letters on the frame. I may be turning around wondering what happened to all my competitors.

Simplicity

I wonder if you can look at a play list of someone’s and see a reflection of their personality. I wonder.

I expanded my itunes top 25 most played to top 100 today. It seemed fitting. I am not one to listen to a song and throw it away the next week. Those top songs on my play list are there for a reason.

My top song is Passing by, by Zero 7. I have probably listened to it a couple hundred times. There are only three non chorus verses and yet in its simplicity it somehow moves me.

My next top played song is The Simplest Thing, by Hey Rosetta! Its title reflects its meaning and the seven minutes reflects on love and happiness being the simplest thing. Its so simple. Its so easy! But in the clutter of our complex lives and complex toys and complex thoughts we somehow lose that.

The song starts of somber and slow to reflect sadness and confusion but mid way through jumps to a quick beat to mimic the solution to our problem. We just cheer up, and stop feeling and thinking so down. We move on and we lighten up. Go for a walk. Look at the beautiful world. Sing a song! We all have it in us. It’s the most natural thing to do. Look at a kid. Live like a kid.

The third most played song reflects simplicity in another way. I heard it first in Little Miss Sunshine. Surfjan Stevens with his repeating lyrics and progression hits on life as growth and movement. Life is not static, things move on. Love, growth, movement, death, “all things go,…all things grow.” He sings of traveling with his friend and getting rid of his past life. He travels and grows and feels free. He simplifies his life and accompanied with it is an intense revelation of the world’s beauty.

A car is pretty simple in its purpose but when analyzed, a car causes all kinds of hassles. First you need a manufacturer to make the car. And of course without roads a car would be worthless. So there must be a company to make asphalt, there must be people to make the roads, and then there need to be people to repair the roads as they degrade. But how will we recognize one car from another? And then how will we make sure that everyone is driving a safe car? License plates and regular inspections of course! And then to make a car run we need fuel. So to get fuel we need stations where a car can get fuel. Then to get the fuel there we need trucks, pipelines, tankers, drills, and people! Goodness this is getting confusing. Then how do we make sure that people are not being bad drivers? Then what happens when something goes wrong with the car? What do we do when a lot of people want to bring there cars to one place like a mall? And of course lets not forget the problem of when two roads cross each other. The list goes on. And in the process we become more stressed and lost. We lose sight of the reality.

So what about a bike? A lot less hassles I would say. And then what about two feet? Not much hassle there.

As Henry David Thoreau said, “Simplify, Simplify.”

Thirty-two

Thirty-two

Each stone sits there every day as thousands of students walk by. Thirty-two stones. Thirty-two of them. They watch us laugh and run by. They watch us ride our bikes by, totally carefree. They watch as the whole line of Blacksburg transit carries thousands of students by each day. They are stuck. We are free.

I can’t believe this has happened to us. I can’t believe it. It is unimaginable. I remember columbine. I was young. I was dumb. I thought, oh what are a few lives lost in the thousands lost each day? I thought, no big deal.

I saw those balloons rise into the sky. Thirty-two white balloons danced into the heavens. We hokies watched as thirty-two of our own danced away out of our grasp. Thirty-two of them. Too many balloons for me to count before they were gone.

The representative for each stone lined up. I looked and saw thirty-two of them. Thirty-two of them. They all stood there and the number thirty-two came to meaning. There were thirty-two living breathing souls standing there.

No longer was this thirty-two a number written on a running bib, or a collection of stones, or candles. No longer was it just a number. Thirty-two humans died by the hand of one man on April 16, 2007. Thousands of students, alumni, families, and caring people’s lives were forever changed by one man’s rage.

AIDS, cancer, genocide, 9-11, tsunami, hurricane, sniper. Columbine, neVer forgeT.

I’m tired. I’m tired of this. I’m scared and I’m tired. So I stand there, watching thousands of candles being brought above head to symbolize our strength and resilience. I stand there, fighting tears for people I never knew. I stand there wondering, are there others who feel this scared? Are there others who are so uncertain about life right now? Is everyone faking it. Is everyone faking being carefree? Or has everyone else figured something out that I have not. My sharp dress is to cover up my feelings.

I remember the Blacksburg sunset. I remember feeling like the world was a puzzle that was complete. I remember the movie Elf, and Finding Nemo, and It’s a Wonderful Life. I remember everything working out in the end.

But now I feel it’s a big mess and the pieces are scattered everywhere. I remember the thirty-two. And they are gone. And I am still here to interpret what happened.

The Ultimate Goal

A summer between two middle school years, my dad took me on my first bike tour, Bike Virginia. At an average of forty miles a day, me and my dad, my best friend Nat and his dad Tim, enjoyed an week of spandex and saddle sores. Nat and I sported mountain bikes for the tour and it was slow going. Not wanting to creep at the pace of prepubescent boys on mountain bikes, our dads took turns riding with us while the other enjoyed riding at a faster speed.

The next year, I begged my dad to do the tour again with me and so we did. Other than getting sick from e. coli in my water, the trip was awesome. I loved it. I loved the thrill of seeing the countryside at the perfect pace. Not so fast you miss the views and not so slow you never get to any views: the perfect compromise between running and driving. I love the thrill of hearing wheels whirr when I felt strong. I loved the dehydration and fatigue and the end of a long day in the saddle. And I especially loved lying down in a bed after a good hard ride. The pain from cycling brought a unique sense of pleasure I had never felt before.

I was a chunky kid when I was little. To give you a sense of measure, I weighed 140 at 5’1”. I am the same weight now, just five inches taller. My goal for 10k’s was to not walk. I enjoyed my food but I was not yet exposed to exercise. After the right combination of exposure to exercise from my dad and drive for healthy eating habits from my mom, I was on my way to being one of the fittest adolescents there was.

Multiple years later, the summer before my sophomore year in high school, Nat, my dad and I returned to complete the ride again. This time however, Nat and I came with road bikes, some strong legs, and full intentions of completing our first ever century, one hundred miles of biking in one day. This year the burden was on me and Nat to wait for my dad. No worries, the old man did the same for us.

After years of trying to whoop my dad’s butt at anything and everything, I finally knew I was better than him at something, even as superficial as it was. I was happy even though I still knew I could never match him at brains, basketball, golf, soccer, maturity, and basically everything else.

And for the century, my dad waved the white flag and chose to sleep in. Nat and I pushed each other the whole day. One of us would get down and feel tired, but the other one would feel great; it was a perfect combination to get us through the day. The ride was in essence a figure eight with another loop on top. We had the option of cutting miles off twice, but we kept going. We ended up riding 104 miles that day due to a small detour. We didn’t care. It just made us feel tougher.

As for my dad, I was finally better than him at something. He is always the standard to me. And although he was not in the NBA, or a professional at anything I wanted to beat him in, he was always my toughest competitor. I had to work for it if I wanted to beat him.

My eighth grade year I picked up basketball and every night my dad would challenge me to be better and better. We would play one on one in our driveway. Every night after dinner I would say “Come on old man.” Typically I would hear a refusal and the old fart would use the excuse of gout. Crystals in his joints, psh what a pansy. After calling him Sally or Betty or Elizabeth enough he would give in. Sometimes his ankle would be the size of his head so we would just play horse.

After battling him all year, I finally won. I won once more, accepted my goal had been achieved, and stopped playing. He will always be my standard. Someday I will try to match him at being a dad. I hope I will be able to make my kids laugh as much as he did us. I hope I can provide for them like he did for us. Maybe I’ll even try to match his business management skills. None of those goals will ever be fully achieved but if I can be half as successful as he was then I’ll be happy.

Last day in Blacksburg

After a sleepless night two nights ago I managed to sleep from 6:30pm to 10:30am today. Yikes. College knocks sleep schedules all kooky. My parents are coming up today, I am completely not ready for my chemistry exam tomorrow, and I’m moving out!!! It looks nice out today. Weather forecast says nice tomorrow too. That’s been rare here in Bleaksburg. Typically we only get one nice day of weather and then six days of rain. Huh, maybe god’s starting to fancy up to Blacksburg and not hating it as much as he used to. I feel very well rested. Rested and wanting to go play outside. Finally when the weather starts shaping up we all have to sit inside and study. Figures. Screw it. I’m going outside.

53rd Street

When I was a little kid, I spent the whole summer at my family’s beach house on 53rd street in Virginia Beach. My brother and I shared a room, bunked beds. I loved it there. It was euphoric, and to have euphoria at such a young age is something extra special.

Not having a surfboard, I learned to manage just fine on my body board. I would paddle out into the surf and jump on in on waves right along with the older surfers. Being so light, I could stand up and ride the wave just like everyone else.

Additionally, my brother and I learned how to use a body board as a skim board. We would run from the beach as fast as we could directly into a wave to see how much air we could get. One day my brother and I decided it would be an intelligent idea to play chicken in a pool of water up on the beach.

I ran at him as fast as I could and jumped onto my board. Last second, being completely content with being the “chicken” I made a futile attempt to bail out. I did not quite understand the laws of inertia and friction. I pushed off my board, my board went flying to the side as my head went straight at my brother’s head. As we lay there in the pool of our own stupidity, my mom came running up worried sick that we had done some real damage. Hard to hurt that lack of brains though. With a wicked headache, loss of pride, and a heart full of shame, my mom decided no punishment for our stupidity would be necessary. We were already punished enough.

One summer I remember enjoying one of the greatest thunderstorms of my life. With every bolt of lightning, the power would go off, and then come back on moments later. Our doorbell would ring every time the power would come back on. My dad, every time the power went off, would say “I bet someone’s about to come to the door.” And then the doorbell would ring and me, my brother, and my sister would laugh like crazy. He must have said it a hundred times that night, and it made me laugh just as hard the last time as the first. I still smile when I think about it.

Another summer at the beach, my dad decided it was time for me to learn how to ride a bike. He took me out to the calm street with my brother’s old bike and told me the basics. He then proceeded to push me around while holding me stable. An epic moment in the life of a father, right? Teaching his kid how to ride a bike. Well I turned around and said, “Can I just try it on my own?” So he let me and I rode. I guess I was born to ride bikes. Needless to say, that is not exactly how any dad would want that day to go. Whoops.

Long after we have left 53rd street behind, I reminisce about the beauty of that place and remember my first home away from home.

Adventures of a medical student