The respite from the wave of feelings was welcome, and I quickly forgot the idea of doing an abbreviated ride to toss the bike on a bus for half the trip. I'd visited friends en route the other direction, and we mused, among other things, about how we'd not seen much of each other recently. Both of them, upon catching up with my life, offered whatever help they could muster, but I was sure as was invariably true that I could make a go of things myself.
Upon arriving for my nephew's birthday after the long slow slog uphill from the river, I chatted with my brother's father-in-law, who groused that I hadn't acknowledged him a month prior while bicycling inbound from the far-flung east suburbs as he drove the other way. I told him how often a horn from a passing motorist was harassment instead of a greeting, and he seemed surprised.
The hours since then had included countless other emotional moments as well. Someone pulled a book off the shelf that my brother had written and illustrated as a grade school assignment. From the front fell a picture of me, the day before my 18th birthday, with my girlfriend on our way to my prom. The convertible which -- as cars went -- would probably always be the ideal I aspired to reposed behind us. I thought about my impending birthday and realized the significance: 25 years ago!
As it came upon time to start heading south, a cool breeze through an open window led to a bit of panic. My sister lent me her light cardigan. My soon-to-be sister-in-law asked if I could use a pair of pants. But nothing comes with quite the unique set of feelings as when a man offers you his flannel shirt, and that man is your father. I never got, and never will get to be, daddy's little girl. I put the feelings aside in the moment and offered a pragmatic take.
"I'm a size 10. I'd be swimming in it."
After the climb over the river crossing positioned at the high end of the numbered grid of the city, I turned away at the traffic light from the most beautiful steel bridge of 1961 to warm myself by pushing at the ascent to the peninsular plateau. The only feeling I had time for as I pushed on was unabashedly positive: I could finish this ride, however cold, because I was a bad-ass.