it's going to be a tough new year.
a long time ago, i came to some ill-informed decision that spending, money or other perceived-to-be-valuable-to-someone-(likely)-else things, was bad. things of value are for saving. (in writing this, i am coming to the drastic conclusion that i was misperceiving what things were valuable, and to whom, but that's a whole other story…) so i carefully and haphazardly and completely unintentionally built up an odd list of things that should be saved. a random sample might have included:
- powerbars and clif bars - for times when the ride or backpacking trip was so epic that such an expensive bit of 'nutrition' should actually be employed
- carabiners - just in case
- first kisses - for the right time and place and lighting and face and..trembling
- dollars - for new gear or bike parts or things that kept me fascinated and motivated through the earning of the dollars
- virginity - hm…
- drawings, every single damn one - to show at my retrospective when i eventually became a famous artist
- love letters - they meant a lot, and it's not often things that mean a lot are given to people who need them
- frames on rolls of 36 exp. slide film - that stuff wasn't cheap
- sheets of pearl finish ilford photo paper - also not cheap, let alone readily available for purchase in the ottawa valley
- batteries in mini mag lites and portable cassette players - hm.
- inner tubes - somehow i rode patched tubes for the entirety of my riding days until i made it through my third year of university
- my dad's clothes - he's still around, and we still talk, but those threads meant a lot to me, frayed and faded and perfectly ill-fitting on me.
eventually, things got a little more figured out. i stayed sentimental and tried to adhere to a misinformed and misformed notion of my 'moral self'. i tried very hard to be a stand-up guy. i tried to see things through. i ended up doing a lot of things i didn't want to do at all. and i didn't do even more things that i was really, really dying to do.
she was not taller than average, but she held a poise and grace about her that belied some kind of regality. i thought her egyptian, a ruler, she was dark of hair and looked like someone whom should be obeyed, somewhere, somehow. i had asked her of her ethnic background, as my co-actor and i had been discussing her and how pretty she was. in the honest quest for the information, i completely missed the part where she assumed it was another pick-up line and rolled her eyes accordingly. dumb and unaware and just happy to be talking to two pretty girls at all, let alone at once, i smiled and waited for her answer: 'brazilian and lebanese'. i must have choked. there was goodness happening there. later on, her doctor would ask her why she didn't need a prescription. she didn't want to get into a long explanation regarding my misguided and grossly inflated sense of 'morals', so she responded that she just didn't. he persisted. he asked if she had a boyfriend. yes. didn't they have sex. no. why not. i don't know. does the boyfriend have something wrong with him. no…
lots of things wrong with him then and now, but one thing that has not changed is the sentimental self. one christmas i was dedicated to listing the things that made christmas christmas, and then i carried them out, with fervour, making sure that my family had christmas whether it was in a traditional way or not, whether my lady could leave the couch or not, whether i worried about the unborn baby we may never have or not, whether i was man enough to make it all happen or not. i needed christmas that year. i needed to get out my nostalgic and sentimental self and make some occasion, on my terms, with agency, on purpose. so many occasions in my life have just happened, more accidentally than epically, and more occasions must be made, and i have to see them coming first, so that i can get them right when they finally arrive, so that i can stop screwing it all up.
so this year, this new year, the first thing i did was get up before 8, put on a ton of clothes, and meet my buddy for a trail run in the frigid snow of the east don. we ran hard up and fast down. we cut new lines and i did my best not to bail while following his flying cleats over ice and snow and fallen brush everywhere. we got back to the parking lot, chests heaving and the sun peaking out for the first time in a long time, and i knew we had done something right. maybe that's where the occasion starts, without a ceremony, just doing the right thing at the right time, with everything we've got.
we are just five days into this brand new year, and there's someone else's baby that cries me awake every night, and my legs are just starting to come around to running and riding again, and there's a gleaming new torture machine in the living room, all set up and waiting, and i've already been through a whole other roller coaster of ceremony and saving. turns out, i'm no good at saving. so i was about two steps away from buying that full carbon TT bike in the west end yesterday after some craigslist flake failed to sell me a commuter mountain bike. i had shaken the sales guy's hand and given him my name, sized up the frameset, inquired about the specifics of warranty and service options, fondled the carbon a bit. i had made up my mind. only a phone call and a fitting away, that TT bike was mine. then i thought about it. i always overthink things, but i especially overthink the spending of money, especially when it's a big ticket purchase, especially when it's a purchase just for me. this time last year, i bought a wicked new camera body that i've only just now paid off. it was half as much as this bike, and it documented the adventures of my family all year, and will continue to allow me to make that special christmas calendar for others, and could make some other money if i ever got around to selling my portfolio better. that TT bike? that won't make me crap. it will really just be a series of holes in my savings, upgrading wheels, paying race fees, the list goes on. and it would only be for me. and the truth of it all: i don't really deserve it. i haven't put thousands of kilometers on the bike i already have. i haven't put thousands of hours on the trainer. i haven't gotten my big girl a bike that actually fits her. i haven't paid the goddam hydro bill. i've got dreams to pay for, and miles to go before i sleep.
there will always be another killer deal. (although, if anyone knows of an $80 mission workshop rambler bag in toronto that i sold two summers ago for quick cash, please send it my way…) but right now is the time to buckle down, to have something to show for myself, to put the time in, to earn things. it's going to be a long, hard year, but i'm pretty sure that's all i'm built for anyway. bring it.