It was one of the best weekends in a long time, although we didn’t do anything particularly special — except spend most of the weekend outdoors, enjoying the family.
Saturday morning, while Ben biked with the B&L speedsters, Sophie and I explored the ocean-bluff-top gardens of the Self-Realization Fellowship. The SRF is a giant compound near us, topped with a glitzy gold dome which looks far too cult-ish even for new-agey me. But I kept hearing good things about their gardens, which are free and beautiful, so Sophie and I went for a stroll. She loved the stairs, the koi-pond, the sand-pit near the meditators (you try meditating next to a giggly baby throwing sand – I was impressed that the SRF folk maintained their equanimity), and the birds & butterflies & waves crashing far below us. Everyone just kept smiling at Sophie. We both left in a calmer mood.
Then I bought a new road-bike. Technically, it’s a cross-bike, because Ben and the Cowbell family think I’m going to race cyclocross. We bought it used from one of their teammates. It’s a better bike than I deserve, filled with pro-level parts that I can’t name, I can just say they’re smoooooth. The wheelset alone is worth $1000 new, Ben says, but he took the wheels off (for his own racing bike) and gave me another set. My favorite thing about my new bike is that it’s orange, it’s named Salsa, and it fits me beautifully. Oh, and the seat is a Terry women’s seat: so perfectly comfortable that I don’t think I’ll ever go back to any other kind of seat.
I had had a steel bianchi, and I liked the steel (retro, shock-absorbing) but not the fit, so I just wasn’t ever riding here as much as I used to back in Connecticut. where the Devil’s Gear kept me sane through grad-school. Really, Matthew’s insanity saved my sanity and my insanity. ElmCityCycling became most of my social life. They gave us a parade when we left. Even more than that: I wasn’t certain about dating Ben until I introduced him to the Lulu Sunday ride crowd. (They approved him, partly because he brewed his own beer, but mostly because he beat arrogant Spinning Andy at hill-climbs. Ben was on a cheap fixie that day, while Andy was on the most expensive bike there, and Andy was so shamed that he stayed away for a month. Ben got nicknamed Saint Ben. I got confirmation that I’d found a good man.)
Back then, I biked more than Ben. Then out here, the high-way-like feel of even back-roads, the steep sandy downhills (because it hardly ever rains – but steep sandy downhills scare me), the packs of people on $5000 bikes seemingly looking down their noses at everyone else, and the sheer repetition of biking up and down the old 101 kept me from being as passionate about biking as I used to be. Oh, yeah, and pregnancy. I still rode around town on my beater, even on my due-date, but I wasn’t going hundreds of miles a week. I wasn’t feeling the joy.
Ben decided I just needed to sell my Bianchi and get a new bike. So he sold the Bianchi for me and found me this Salsa, and then on Saturday, while Soph-a-loaf napped, I biked inland, away from the 101, around Rancho Santa Fe, which is as close to recreating New England backroads as I can find here.
It was glorious. Ben said I glowed for the rest of the day.
Then there was a nice barbecue at D&R’s house-warming party, and that ended a great Saturday.
Sunday, we skipped our usual heavy eggs-or-pancake breakfast places and instead went to Swami’s, where I had an acai bowl that felt wonderful. We walked on the beach. Then Ben went riding while Soph and I went to our UU fellowship.
That was the least-sustaining part of the weekend. The choir wasn’t wonderful. The sermon didn’t make me think. The seats were hot. The coffee-hour conversations were lackluster. I’m terrible at ending friendships, especially a friendship with a religious congregation — but I’ve decided I’m going to stay away from UU for a while. I agree with all the principles, but the problem is that I just haven’t actually found community there, not the kind of community that I’ve enjoyed in the past at churches that I don’t intellectually agree with. I keep thinking that it’s me. If only I joined more committees, maybe I’d feel better about belonging — but I’m working full-time and raising a baby three-quarters time and really just don’t have time to commit to any committee, and I resent the pressure to volunteer. If only I reached out more, maybe I’d feel the community that this UU fellowship is always talking about — but actually, I don’t think that many people feel it, they just talk about it. I’ve been a member of this fellowship for a year-and-a-half now, and it’s been one of the most stressful years-and-a-half of my life, mostly because of adjusting to parenthood. And all the fellowship does is add stress. It’s too bad. We did meet B&C there, and M&M. Those are friendships I treasure, but those are friendships that can continue outside the fellowship.
Sunday afternoon was better. We spent hours at the park with the Cowbell family. The grown-ups practiced jumping over barriers with their bikes, taking turns watching the kids play. Parks are so much more fun with other adults. Afterwards, the Cowbells came over for pizza and more kids-playing in our backyard, but Sophie was so exhausted that she actually went into her room, pulled her blankets through the slats in her crib, and lay down on the floor to sleep. It was a good weekend.