Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Fool On The Hill



Decline is a gradual thing. A vine that starts small and then inexplicably takes over the side of the house. In my head, I still think I am a happening guy. I'm a drummer, a skateboarder, surfer, etc. I put on my denim leisure suit and strut through my day to a disco soundtrack. The sound of laughter fades in from the rear, until it envelopes the entire sound stage. I get a glimpse of myself (sans denial goggles) and realize I am a walking cliche of what once was, or may have never been, cool. I am invisible to the opposite sex, and the target of mockery.

Well that the was the scene I watched, and the dialogue I heard, as I played back the dailies from yesterdays drama. Lets start at the beginning...

Paul is receiving unsolicited (is there any other kind?) advice from me about cornering and braking. He made a little bobble and his nerves were messing with his technique. I'm nervous that I'm going to get dropped on what Big Worm had sold as a chill recon of the race loop. After a few more helpful tips, Paul grabs some brakes and lets me go by. Moto Jason is showing me the front half of his bike on every corner. There is an unspoken tension that I imagine horses feel right before a stampede. At the top of Cadillac, before the first downhill, I am right where I want to be, behind Big Jim and Worm. This is the only section in town that I consider myself an "A" rider. In between the two sections I ride well are some technical climbs and some washed out, tight corners that make my gas light come on. I hang on almost to the last gazebo before I have to give in and let Steve A and Moto Jason, go by. It takes a while for Paul to catch me, but he does and I get out of his way too. The rest of the ride is a series of regroups where the boys dutifully sit up and wait for me. Out of pride and obligation, I squeeze out two laps, but any thoughts of racing are dashed.

We all expect to get old and to lose something in the process of aging. Somewhere in the back of our minds we know it is coming. It doesn't prepare you for the actual event or knowing things will never be the same. People frequently tell me I am lucky: doctors, relatives, co-workers, and my long suffering wife. A thirty eight year old lawyer, with the same condition as me, died a week before I had my incident. There were also a lot of people who didn't have strokes, and I would rather be on that team. I never wrote on my life list that I wanted to be the luckiest stroke/PFO survivor. Forgive my ingratitude, I am working on it.

It has been exactly one year and ten days since my stroke. I wrote a few half hearted attempts at putting a brave face forward and left them in and around the virtual waste bin. Facebook had a one of my posts from one year ago, in the margin of my page today, and it read:

"It is all I can do not to suit up and go ride today. I am trying to be patient. I am ready for the next step. I really just want to ride. Go get some dirt for me!"

There were endless replies of support. I was embarrassed at how quickly I forget. Even though I woke up with my face, right arm and legs numb this morning, I realize as I write this, I am lucky. I still have a lot to learn about my new parameters. I hate seeing my friends ride away, but watching from the woods is better than wondering what they are doing from the couch. Forgive my greed, my denial is strong. I hope to find some grace in all this, but like everything else, I am slower than most.

W.B.Z.N.

12 comments:

Ms. Moon said...

Oh Sugar. It IS hard, even if it's just regular old aging. I can't imagine what you're going through. Some people are acceptors, some of us are not and we fight it. We are wired this way. You are the Human Wrecking Ball, not the Human Ball of Acceptance.

Human Wrecking Ball said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Human Wrecking Ball said...

That really made me laugh. Thanks Sister Moon.

nicol said...

That is funny, Ms. Moon.

Well, HWB, I don't know ya personally, but I am glad you're around! I am going to go with Ms. Moon's lead and say I think you're a "Human Ball of Personality" and that is quite in people, it seems. (Many folks seem to stifle theirs-me included sometimes.) Doesn't seem like you do that ever. Glad you're still riding! I need to get my arse back on the bike. My only excuse is busyness and that's just dumb. Glad you posted-it had been awhile.

nicol said...

insert: *quite rare* in people...

Human Wrecking Ball said...

Thanks Nic! Please ride...SOON!

Juancho said...

Are you kidding me with this? This fall is our season. We're going to crush those dudes. You can't be stopped.

Treeman said...

Hey, stop that! Our ride last Sunday was one of the more enjoyable rides of the week wasn't it? I fully understand about the spot in the conga line though.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

Sunday was great. I am thankful I can do long medium pace rides. As soon as I put in an effort I suffer (both on the ride and the next day).

Mungam said...

Growing old gracefully is reserved for those who have no will to live. This species didn't get here on meek ambition; it greedily clawed up from the swamps eating whatever looked back.
Thinking you're slow among that group is like thinking you're fat next to Kate Moss.

Just fucking power-slide in, on fire, slappin' your ass.

Human Wrecking Ball said...

Mungam, that may be the best comment anyone has ever written. Good stuff and funny.
I will say this, had I never been able to hang onto those guys, it wouldn't be so bad, hence the "I used to be cool" metaphore. The reality of my new life hasn't sunk in. I am not as sad as it sounds, I'm just trying to get used to my face transplant.

Mungam said...

take me to the river son! let's go surfing!