I was riding along one day doing my normal fall Saturday routine picking up apples at City Market. I was headed toward my friends to meet for the 3:00 bike ride and this dude asked me, “Do you know where the Heart of America Bridge is?”
I said, “Yes, I’ll show you.” I thought he was a regular commuter since I saw all the stickers on his bike and he was wearing a jersey, but none of the other “roadie uniform.” Plus he had a useful looking bike, so I assumed he was a more utilitarian cyclist like me.
So I started leading him down through City Market and I saw this drain grate ahead and just as I was about to yell,”Watch out,” he fell in the grate. He wrecked pretty dramatically and I wished I had a video camera to catch it but I didn’t. So I offered the best I could do, “If you lay back down, I’ll take your picture.”
He said, “Oh, there’s no part of that experience I’d like to repeat.” A couple of cars stopped to see if he was OK and he said, “I”m still taking inventory, but I think so.”
So I walked him over to the coffee shop that was caddy corner and I’m stiting outside the store watching his bike and I thought, “I don’t even know this dude and now I’m responsible for him. I just met him three blocks ago and here I am in charge of somehow getting him home or to the hospital if he needs it.” Then he came out and told me he didn’t even remember where his car was parked and I was very doubtful indeed.
He came out and we talked and he seemed to be OK so after a while we rode to do the 3:00 bike ride with my friends. We rode to my friend Christi’s house and rode to Cliff Drive and rode to the beer store and then back to city market. The whole time he chit chatted with my friends and took pictures and seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself. Lots of cyclists have joined our 3:00 bike ride and gotten scared off by us riding on gravel or grass or watching Clint and Tom ride down big flights of stairs or seeing us look in dumpsters. But not this dude. He was able to maintain a conversation the whole time and I thought he was very gregarious and tolerant. Little did I know that really he never ever does stop talking.
He eventually remembered where his car was parked so when my friends decided to ride around to Anser’s Recycling to see if anything interesting was in the dump I asked him if he wanted to peel back to the Miriam Farmer’s Market. Keep in mind that the purpose of our 3:00 ride isn’t so much just to ride bikes, but to use a bicycle to go have an adventure. And just riding in circles on the same route gets pretty boring, so I don’t do a lot of other group rides. Plus many of them start out in BFE and I’ve already done my ride by the time I get there.
So Rod decided to follow us down to Asner’s and we poked around and we might have gone to Kaw point afterward. Michelle might have played the tank like a flute that day or Melissa might have ridden the electrical spool. When we got back to his turnoff for the car, I told him I’d call and he said the same.
I looked at his blog the next day and friended him on Facebook and then called that night. He didn’t call back. I called again the next day and he didn’t call back, so finally, since I really liked him, I called a third time and I said, “Well, I might be at the Plaza playing Frizz with my friends Monday night.” But then Monday night I got in workaholic mode and didn’t make it to Frizz but he did, so then I finally knew he was interested, too. We called and made an actual committed date for Thursday and I came and rode with him on the Brookside ride.
Afterward I rode with my friends on the Thursday girls’ ride that was going on at the time. I told my friends how I had met a guy who rode 26 miles and it turned out he had two broken fingers. They said, “Oh… he’s a keeper.” Funny, I was really impressed because he was tough and he was really impressed that I wasn’t judgmental, but we were both wrong.
As we got to meet each other more, we realized how much we had in common, like photography and blogging (though he’s more regular than me), bicycling, cooking, and even trying strange foods at the ethnic markets. I know one time I was waiting outside the African store in Northeast and he came out with two drinks and asked if I knew how he picked them out. “Of course,” I said, “You picked the very strangest looking thing. I do the same thing.” And this one had lumps of tapioca floating in bee pollen and cactus juice or something.
He said, “It’s like scratching off a lottery ticket. You’ll get one off, and say, ‘Wow, it matches.’ Then the next one matches, and the next one, and the next one, and you think, ‘It can’t all match.’ But it does.” This is how he designed our invites, with the scratch off ticket hiding our interests.
We kept dating for a while and we’d known each other for something like three months before he could figure out what I do for a living. I’m a mental health advocate and I help people learn how to get back out of the mental health system if they get stuck. He was afraid of my mental health label at first because he thought, “Well, no one recovers from schizophrenia.” But that’s one of the myths that I help to dispel with my work.
Amazingly, the next day that he was doubting this, he went to a massage with a gift certificate he had and the masseuse confirmed it, “Oh yeah, I used to see things and take Seroquel, too, but I got things back together and got off the meds slowly and now I’m fine, and I don’t take any meds. It’s not permanent.”
Since God was looking out for us, he found a way to tell Rod. Rod didn’t believe in God until he met me. He just went to the same church for four years because he liked the “lectures” and because they were able to handle his daughter who has a lot of autism in their special needs ministry. He says, “Kids like her, you can’t just throw her in a room full of kids her own age and hope for the best.” He also points out that there aren’t a lot of places that parents of kids with disabilities can go out sometimes.
So he’s sitting there in Heartland Community Church, which he’s attended for four years without being a believer and suddenly he hears a voice that he thinks is the voice of God, like something saying words that were already formed in his mind. It says, “You can argue about creationism, and irreducible complexity, and wait for a proof, and keep arguing, but argue this. I made her for you.”
So of course I wrote a poem about it, here on my Blog, “Love Makes My Tears Stronger than My Fears.”