Saturday, September 4, 2010
We used to have three bikes. One was the victim of thievery in Chicago. We were bringing it to a friend, a friend now bikeless in San Francisco.
The remaining two bikes are strapped to the car; one on top, quivering in the wind, and one on the back, the tires slowly revolving. Every couple of minutes I look up through the sky roof (with a tinge of apprehension... where would I be without it?) and see the solitary bike moving through the open air, free of confinement, hurtling without reservation towards its final destination. Now with a hint of jealousy... I have always wished to fly. Since I was a small girl with golden ringlets my body has yearned for flight, for that liberating weightlessness. One could go anywhere, do anything, if only granted the gift of aerial navigation. The ultimate adventure.
We are harrowing downhill. The temperature is steadily rising. I am envisioning myself floating, suspended in nothingness, suspended in space, euphoria, the closest a human can come to full-bodied, physical aviation - I am an astronaut.
"You can't be an astronaut," he shouts with laughter.
"And why not?" I am peeved by his immediate rejection.
"You have to be really smart to be an astronaut.
Not only am I peeved, I am insulted.
"I mean you have to be a genius... and in really good shape. You don't like exercise or mathematics."
"I could," I retort lamely. "I'll marry into it. My future husband, being the elderly head of NASA, surely will not deprive his stunning, seraphic wife (moooooiii) the thing she desires most."
We disagree. We are sweating. The thermometer on the dashboard reads 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometime between lashing the bikes to the car and my becoming a space cadet, our beautiful Jobeena dragged us into the desert. We are surrounded by sand dunes. The dunes wave lazily in the heat that rises, undulating. I lean forward to unstick myself from the worn fur that covers the seats; it clings to me. I look around and there is nothing; only blackened stone on blackened hills. The earth is scorched by the sun here.
We both sport miniature American flags tied around our heads to keep the sweat from dripping into our eyes and spoiling our vision. The flags were a gift from his mother, now 3,000 miles away. We stop at a lone gas station for iced, carbonated beverages. The cashier asks what in the hell we are doing out here. Looking around at the cratered ground, stale and baked, I shrug.
We are a little closer to our star; we can feel its might, its warmth, its chaos.
We are explorers, I say.
Adventure is out there.