In daylights, in sunsets
In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
– Seasons of Love, Rent
I’m just sitting here. In New York. New York! What have I done? It’s still confusing. Maybe it always will be.
Every person has a different reaction when I tell them. The woman in the shoe shop made me repeat myself. Although she was also shocked that I only had two pairs of shoes.
The barman thought I was joking. I managed to convince him otherwise.
The doorman was amazed. We shook hands.
The friend told me she was proud. I blushed and told her it was nothing.
The friend of a friend was jealous. I told him he was right to be.
Some people don’t understand how. Some people don’t understand why.
Join the club.
I’m sitting here. In New York. I’ve been here for a week and I still don’t quite understand.
I actually did it. I got on my bike on Santa Monica beach. I got onto my bike thousands of miles away. Sand spread across my path. Uncertainty spread across my thoughts. And then I rode.
And soon there was no more sand. And soon there was no more uncertainty.
What was the highlight?, they say.
What was your favourite place?, they question.
Impossible questions, that I answer to appease. But in essence, this trip isn’t a collection, but a collective. My memories aren’t separate. There were phases and moments and differences yes. And they were separated, in a sense, into days or memories or ups or downs.
But that’s missing the point.
It was a whole. One glorious experience. How do you explain to someone the beauty of clouds? The extreme, humbling beauty of clouds spread across a Colorado sky above a lake you’ve just cycle up and down mountains to see. Or how that experience fits into the journey. How it affected the next day. How that picture became imbedded into your consciousness. How everything touches everything. How one deed affects the next. How one good deed leads to another. How out of small things, big things grow. How one positive experience leads to another. How one irrelevant moment isn’t so irrelevant. Nothing was ever just a moment.
I feel funny. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to say.
I’ve been in New York for a week.
How to sum up what I’ve done, how I’ve felt, who I’ve met, who I am.
It’s nice to sleep inside on a bed every night. But I miss the uncertainty and freedom of not knowing where I’ll be resting my head.
It’s nice to have a wardrobe with t-shirts, shirts, tops. But I miss the certainty and freedom of my two-top system.
I was free. I was free.
Cycling set me free.
I missed my friends. Sometimes. I missed talking to them. Having them there with me. Sharing. Sharing my experience. Sharing theirs.
Hugs. The power of a hug to lift you.
This journey. This time in my life. Indescribable. Unquantifiable. Words do not – words cannot – do justice.
The wind in my hair. The smile on my face.
The people I’ve met. The people I’ve connected with. The people I will meet again. We once were strangers.
America. I thank you. America. I can’t thank you enough.
I keep telling people, if you ever start to doubt humanity, cycle across America. You will feel love everywhere if you open yourself up to it.
Prepare, but be unprepared. That’s when the magic happens. Be open. Experience. Cycle.
People will amaze you. If you let them.
I’m in New York. I’m in New York! I’m in New York! I cycled to New York! Maybe I’ll never get tired of saying that. Or hearing it.
And I could not have done it alone. Everyone with me. Fellow cyclists. Churches, town halls and fire stations that allowed me to call them home for a night. Parks, picnic areas, rest stops.
That guy who bought me a milkshake. The free coffee from that gas station. Pete from the Netherlands. The couple who gave me some water. A fantastic smoothie. Local knowledge. Sandy and Andy. Becky and David. Ted and Lisa. Heidy and Gunti. Shane. Ethan. Free Gatorade. All-you-can-eat peaches. Free pizza. Free shirt. Free hat. Free salad. Free cookies. Free beer.
People who welcomed me into their homes. Who allowed me to share in their experiences. To join their family for a while. Or longer. Special, special people. Who gave me somewhere to sleep. Somewhere to wash. Who fed me. Who cared for me. Who allowed me to share my experiences and stories. And who became my experiences and my stories.
You. Who followed along. Who knew where I was.
You. Who told me how cool it was.
You. Who messaged me randomly just to tell me they had started cycling again.
You. Who messaged me to tell me how lucky I was.
You. Who messaged me with encouragement.
You. Who always seemed to know how I felt. How I feel.
You. Who donated to this fantastic cause.
You. Who acted as my inspiration.
You. Who kept me in the loop with things at ‘home’.
You. Who followed along on twitter.
You. Who always commented. Or liked. Or shared.
You. And you. And you. And you.
I couldn’t have done it without you. Riding solo? I was never alone.
That moment. When I saw New York City. And I knew.
Cycling into New York with my parents.
I’m welling up. Emotion is pouring out. I have so much to give. So much to tell. But I don’t know what to say. Or how to say it. So this will do.