Woke up still shaken from how wiped I had been the day before, plus my right forearm felt inflamed and unwilling to play gel in the bottom of a running shoe anymore, so I got myself into that van. Not an especially compelling story to tell about the ride, but it was the one day I planned to get in the van far enough in advance to choose what I brought with me into the van. I chose my laptop so I could write blog posts because I prioritize taking care of y’all.
What I heard from people at lunch made me confident in my decision. The chipseal hadn’t let up, and it was a rough day. I love being validated in my choices, because I hate making any.
I had heard rumors of a legendarily great host somewhere on the SUS route, but I didn’t know who or where they were. It turns out they were Sally, and they were located right outside of Dallas, in Sunnyvale. So ready or not, we were headed to the Hellmouth, and the biggest blowout host “weekend” of the whole Bike & Build organization, on any route. It was just funny that while most people rolled up to paradise after biking through hell, I just stepped out of a car.
Sally Muhl volunteers as a Habitat coordinator, so a SUS group eight years ago contacted her about a build day, their host fell through, she volunteered to have them at her place, and the rest is history. Apparently there is something so rewarding about having a bunch of smelly 20-somethings with drastically lowered alcohol tolerance blunder around your house as they try to condense a summer’s worth of weekends into two build days that is fun enough to do it every year. (PSA: Host Bike & Build trips! We’re so great.) But Sally doesn’t just host. She hosts a party. As each person walked in, she greeted us with, “would you like a milkshake?” And every surface of her house, whether inside, outside, on table or in a cooler on the ground, was covered in food and alcohol. Buckets of candy, mini brownies topped with frosting and a pecan each, strawberries, cherries, blackberries, saltines smothered in a homemade seasoning blend, her sister’s secret recipe chicken salad (so secret that she wouldn’t give it to Sally, but Sally sent it to a food lab who recreated the spice blend and which some of our group is going to order), cucumbers, carrots, savory dip, sweet dip, hummus, and outside, coolers of local Dallas beer, cider, Mike’s Hard, bottled water, and gatorade. Also there to greet us was Jeffery, who works with Sally at an aviation company but was a deep tissue masseuse in a past professional life, and he gets out the ouija board when Bike & Builders come to town. “Put your name down for a massage” has to be one of the sweetest sentences in the English language. We were each allotted ten minutes to roll out some of our many (muscular) kinks, but we got to talking (or rather, I got to asking and he got to answering) about what it was like to be black and in the yoga community and the south, and the end of my session he told me it had crept up to fifteen. (People in the yoga world are nice; perhaps some are nice because they want a black friend and/or “diversity;” growing up, his family moved from an all-black neighborhood to one with only four black families and he learned to use his size to put people in their place when they gave him a hard time). He said that it’s not necessarily my IT Band hurting, as pressure points can trigger pain in far off places in the body, and that when he massages people he can tell where their pain is because of the way they clench up.
After that exquisite pain, it was into the pool and the beer cooler. Then dinner, a masterpiece of Texan barbecue: ribs, brisket, pulled pork, coleslaw, Asian slaw, roast potatoes, and asparagus. I wasn’t hungry going into that meal, but I powered through because I have m We stayed up late, up to no good in the backyard. I made myself a bed of three layered Amish quilts under me and one on top of me in the front room.