Safety Navigator day. What this means is technically this was the first day I needed to be in the van. Let that one sink in. All my van drama, all those unforgettable stories of sitting silently in the back by myself brooding, none of that would have happened if I had just followed the schedule. But the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live in the perpetually dank back row, mad to talk inaudibly over music and two rows of seats, mad to be saved from biking, desirous of everything at the same time- both biking and not biking, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing because they’re already asleep and I can’t hear them anyway, but burn, burn, burn gas like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop of another car’s lights ahead. Yes, the only people for me are van people.
I put on my shirt for the day, the 2XL cat print tee shirt that is the right and responsibility and talisman of the SafNav aka SpongeBob SafetyPants. I love the cat shirt. I have coveted it everyday since Alex bought it in a WalMart and wondered what the people who buy that shirt in earnest for themselves are like and is there a group and can I sit in on their meetings?
Then weather happened. As RTK said, “I don’t like weather.” Weather, in this case, was rain and wind so severe it came down sideways, drenching us under an awning. We fire lined the bikes inside, with people shouting, “hold the door!” in what was apparently a reference to an episode of Game of Thrones I haven’t seen yet. When we finished, the entrance to the church was soaked. I found an online PDF of the book Me Before You, as the reviews of the book made that version sound like an emotionally reasonably, funny, valuable read and I was down to go on that ride as well as to get some insight into the adaptation process.
We sat around, as people checked weather radars offering conflicting predictions on when the best moment to hit the road and sneak past the storm was. “We ride in the rain,” Melissa said like a slogan, as gale force swept said rain into a cyclonic fury.
In the meantime, the band had arrived for the contemporary service (something I learned this summer is that churches often have both traditional and contemporary services, which are hip ‘n’ fun ‘n’ have things like a rock band. I sat and watched theirs rehearse songs with karaoke style lyrics on a projector over photos of crosses.
Melissa and I rolled out in the van before the last people biking, who were determined to wait out the water. We didn’t make it far. 3 miles in, the rain was so heavy you could hardly see out the window. It doesn’t matter how safe you’re riding on your bike if drivers are blind.
We pulled over to a gas station and found 8 of our team already inside, huddled around a table. The owner brought out some more chairs, and we hunkered down for the duration. Kelly bought us a big bag of vinegar and salt chips, Christina got microwaveable Cinnabon chunks, and Sarah W got all dressed chips aka socialized medicine. We played the game in which you all write anything you want on scraps of paper, put them in a helmet, then go around the circle in rounds of describe the word, act out the word, and say one word, all to get your teammates to guess what the scraps of paper you pulled say. Then we started ferrying the riders past the storm so they could ride more than three total miles. The actual church people drove our church people, their bikes in the back of their ubiquitous trucks.
We didn’t have a lunch stop because of the morning shenanigans, so my van day was unusual, but once we had returned to the gas station refuge to carry the rest to sunny roads, Melissa and I talked about life paths, comparisons with her last trip, and biking. She said our group was less cliquey and everyone seemed to really want the best for everyone else.
At the church (United Methodist), I found a couch that fit me minus my ankles and took a two hour nap. RTK woke me and Christina up for lasagne. Then Zoe, Kayla, Roy, and I did abs for a hot second before transitioning into a dance party. I showered, redonned the cat shirt as I was eking out every moment of my 24 hours with it as possible, and accompanied Melissa to Walmart so I could apply vegetable-shaped pressure on her purchasing choices. I succeeded in lobbying for a bag of precut kale. We also picked up a replacement sparkly pink hula hoop for Sarah W. Kayla and Roy, meanwhile, apparently tried out hula hoops for the duration of our trip, then settled on mini bottles of burnt brown sugar body wash and apricot face scrub. Back at the church, I ate gluten free pretzels dipped in cookie butter because Christina had them out next to me, then went to bed but couldn’t sleep for a while. Apparently I’m not as sleep deprived as I believe myself to be if a puny nap can throw me off like that?