Monday, December 14, 2020

Level Up

In gaming, especially in role-playing games, characters that achieve goals, like solving a puzzle, outwitting a foe, amassing artifacts, completing a quest, level up. When you level up you go to the next level of the game, maybe acquire new tools, skills, a symbol of your growth, like a better hat, a new cloak.

Yesterday, I leveled up! The bike miles, riding 2,000 miles... I reached the goal yesterday! I was only three miles away from hitting the mark, so we knew it would happen enroute of our regular ride. At mile one, Geoff asked, "Do you have celebratory music qued up?" I did not. I couldn't think what song that would be. But I was really eager for something to happen, for the moment to be momentous! Maybe I've played too many video games... having this unspoken notion that stars would spin, lights might flash, a banner would unfurl: "2,000 Bicycle Miles! You Reached Level II Amateur!" Then maybe my helmet would gain a headlamp, or change colors. Objectively, truthfully, I wasn't expecting those things, but I did wish we could celebrate with a platter of tacos. Tacos appearing at the end of the ride, or at the place where the odometer ticked over to the magic mile. That would have been the best. Also, I purposely turned back to arrive at a prettier spot, when I was at about 2.8 miles, because posing for pictures in front of a stranger's house wasn't gonna cut it for my crowning moment.

I don't think it's conventional to give a speech when leveling up. But obviously, I rarely go for convention.

Natalie's Brief, and Heartfelt, Speech, on the Occasion of Riding a Bicycle 2,000 miles Over the Course of About 18 Months, While Going Around and Around, and Around Her Neighborhood.

First, I am astonished to be here, figuratively, literally. I am timid and afraid, and I thought my small attempts at big things seemed pointless. I am glad that I did not act on my beliefs, but instead faced my discomfort, literal and figurative, and rode! This leads me to speak of the tremendous love and gratitude, respect, and admiration, I feel for Geoff, who acts on higher beliefs, with big goals in mind. He saw us riding bicycles, and when I resisted, he persisted, gently, but with conviction. He keeps me charged, and pedaling. He inflates tires, checks brakes, adjusts seats, and daily he poses the question, "Are we gonna ride?" And ride, we do! And even though we go seemingly nowhere, he never pushes me (too much) beyond what I feel safe doing, and he shares, with sincere enthusiasm, my peculiar awe and wonder in finding new sights, new friends, new furniture, craft supplies, and appreciation in those same, daily, neighborhood loops. Thank you, Geoff. And thank you, friends on Instagram, who cheered and celebrated with me, who joined in my vision of an imagined ride, that lately is aiming for Rome, where we understand "... they have made some nice paintings." Michael C, and I think we need to start a caravan. Join us! We are going places!

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