My plan was to ride approximately 100 miles from my house all the way around the island, ending downtown at the bike shop where Coach C would install a speedometer on my bike.
I had a little speech practiced in my head for when I got there. I decided today was the day I was going to tell him how happy I am when I’m with him, that I’m happy in general because I have a good life and I’m really lucky but when I’m with him I’m somehow just even more happy. I was going to tell him I think about him all the time and suggest he strongly consider how awesome it would be to take a flying leap off a giant cliff with me.
It was an ambitious undertaking. I left my driveway before dawn and made my way out to Kalanianaole and through Hawaii Kai. The payoff to climbing the backside of Koko Head was watching the sunrise over Makapu’u as I rode past Sandy’s towards Waimanalo. My mood was stellar as I cycled on.
Kailua… Kaneohe… Kualoa for a quick bathroom break… Hauula where I stayed with my mom… Laie… Kahuku… Pupukea for a blueberry muffin and a Waialua pineapple soda at Ted’s Bakery… Haleiwa…
I cruised through the North Shore and, 4 hours and more than 60 miles in, accidentally found myself back on Pineapple Hill. I meant to go farther west but turned too soon and just thought Fuck it, why the hell not?
It wasn’t a good idea and the 3-mile incline did a number on me. I was exhausted by the time I reached the top which led to more wrong turns in Wahiawa and almost ten unintentional miles added to my trip. Up to that point it was a beautiful ride and though Kunia was painfully hilly, it was gorgeous as well. Coming down into Waipahu the scenery changed quickly. Industry, potholes, big trucks kicking up dust. The last 16 miles along Farrington Highway to Nimitz pretty much sucked and then about a mile from the bike shop I fell.
It wasn’t serious. I was just tired and came too close to a car. I scraped up my leg but you could hardly tell it was covered with so much dirt by then. All I wanted to do when I finally got to the shop was wash my hands and take a nap but I did my best to stay positive and upbeat.
The mood wasn’t what I expected, or should I say hoped for. It was like he seemed tired of me or something. I think he was impressed by how far I had ridden but there was no “Good job!” or anything of the sort. I sat on the floor and stretched a little, practicing my speech in my head trying not to seem nervous.
After he was finished installing my speedometer we were trying to figure out how the backlight worked to no avail. I was too tired to really care about the answer and said, “It’s OK, I won’t be riding around in the dark much anyway.”
And to my surprise he replied, “You do more than most.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the first time it ever dawned on me that he thinks I’m stupid. He’s made jokes here and there about my spaciness but for some reason they never bothered me so much as made me think of little boys in grade school who make fun of the girls they like. But this one really got to me. And what’s worse is I hadn’t said anything dumb in that moment. It was just an unprovoked commentary of his general feeling toward me.
I had just ridden over 100 miles for the first time in my life, with 10 more to go just to get myself home and my coach, this man I trust and completely adore, tells me I’m stupid.
So I left without giving my speech. I thanked him for the installation and was on my way. I took a lot of deep breaths but still cried riding through Waikiki, almost hyperventilating up over Diamond Head, my heart not caring at all that my legs were climbing yet another fucking hill. It felt like I would never get home but of course in time I did. I rode into my driveway completing a full 115 mile loop around the island, then I walked inside, fell onto my bed and cried some more.
I’m aware of my overreaction. I’m exhausted, hungry and sad; it’s no surprise that I would blow a flippant comment out of proportion. I’m certain from his perspective it was nothing more than a playful jab that really didn’t mean anything. But I can’t help but also take it for the other thing that it is, a clear indication of something I know but haven’t wanted to deal with just yet.
And so it goes that Coach C will not be falling in love with me. Nor will he be exiting his comfort zone in order to grab my hand and take a flying leap off a giant cliff.
This has to be OK and so, in time, it will be.