I write this from a deck chair, in my bikini, hat, and sunglasses, overlooking meadow and water. I’m two days into a two-week vacation with Liam. One of the things I’ve most enjoyed about being single is I can plan whatever vacation time I want. I rented a house on the ocean and it’s been bliss so far. I’m working on my bikini tan lines and getting used to having my middle exposed to the sun and the world (here, the world is defined as some cattle who are on the property next door, some seagulls, and a weathered old woman neighbor).
I booked this trip when Will was still away, so asking for two weeks solid with his child wasn’t an issue. Now that he’s back, I have Liam these two weeks, and the last two weeks of August he’ll be with his Dad. His Dad who just came back from a 10 day trip with Colleen and her two girls and their nanny but for some reason didn’t bring Liam along. It would have been a trip he could remember forever.
But giving him those memories has fallen to me, at least so far.
My Mom and Step-Dad are with us this week, then on the weekend my half-brother (my Father’s son) and his fiance are coming to visit. She leaves on Tuesday and then it’s just me, my half-brother, and Liam. Liam adores his uncle, who at 25 is not quite as parental and grown up as I am, and who is still a ton of fun.
My Mom borrowed my car last week. Given their financial difficulties she and my step dad share a car, and he left a week ago to drive to our destination.
I don’t drive much during the week, so it wasn’t an issue at all. I’m happy to help her out where I can. But Friday morning I had booked an appointment with my esthetician. I see her every four to six weeks and she waxes my eyebrows and tints my eyelashes. She used to wax my bikini line as well but it destroyed my skin. The scars have just faded.
That morning I realized – oh shit, I have no way to get to see her. It’s a very long ride by public transportation. Taking a taxi seemed excessive. I had this realization at my kitchen island and then looked to see my beautiful red bike against a wall.
Could I – gasp – BIKE there?
Before I could talk myself out of it I decided that was exactly what I was going to do. I got out my bike path map to figure out the best way to get there. Having lived there all my life, I know my city pretty damn well, but I was slightly anxious about being on a bike on roads I’ve only ever driven on before.
I planned my route, poured the rest of my latte down my throat, put on my helmet, and took off.
I knew there would be a hill somewhere. Of course, it was the last street of my ride, which turned out to be about 25 minutes. I know for cyclists like Will Carrier, this is nothing. But for me, this was a first. I had taken Liam out around a huge cemetery near our house, but that was different. I can’t think of the last time, if ever, I’ve used a bike as a method of transportation (versus leisure). And I’m not exactly in shape.
I saw the hill, put myself into first gear, and said – perhaps out loud “don’t be such a pussy Ann. You can do this. Do NOT get off this bike and walk it up the hill.”.
You know what? I did it. Slowly, but I did it. I didn’t care that there were people in their cars as I went by. I smiled at the cyclist going the other way who gave me a big smile. I got to the top of the hill, locked my bike, and walked into the salon. I could barely get down the stairs to the treatment room but I did it.
And afterwards, I got to go down that mother-fucking hill and it felt great. I found an urban trail I’d missed on my way up. I zipped over curbs and rocks and wondered why this seemed so different from a route I took once with Will, where I was cautious and nervous and out of breath.
I am not afraid anymore.
The thought came quickly into my head and got stuck. I spent the rest of my ride thinking about my last seventeen years. I realized that in the two years after becoming single, I am not afraid anymore.
I’m going to take my size 14 ass and get on that gorgeous red bike and go over potholes and curbs. I’m going to wear my orange bikini (no, not while riding) and work at not caring about my stretch marks and jiggly middle.
I’m going to do what I want, love who makes me happy, invest in my friendships, take care of my parents, and create lasting memories for my child.
I’m going to live.