May 3rd, 2013
I thought the coldest was behind me but apparently not. The cold managed to pierce through my Rockies-proven, impromptu, motorcycle cover, makeshift blanket down here at half the elevation. My water bottle turned into a slushi and my bike became covered in frost. That’s fine, whatever, the flatlands of Kansas are only an hour’s drive away. I pack and make a breakfast of an icy tomato and bell pepper sandwich that gives me a brainfreeze. I ride through the beautiful back trails and am back on the road again heading toward the warm, sunny and flat promised land of Kansas.
In a couple of hours I cross the border and no sudden switch in temperature happens. I naïvely hoped that a state line would somehow separate climates but of course mother nature doesn’t pay heed to silly human politics. There is snow on the floor on either side of the road for the next hours and once again I was not mentally prepared. From now on, no more expectations; just adaptation.
The monotony of driving through flat endless farmland is broken by an errand that I do for my former boss. He had asked me to check on the status of a gravestone that had been placed in a small cemetery where his mother-in-law was buried. He was a great boss to me so I am happy to do him a favor and anyway, I find it an interesting task . I ask some locals and easily find the tiny cemetery on the one main street of the town.
Sometimes it is bizarre to take a step back and find myself in unusual circumstances. Here I am on a cold windy, late afternoon, alone in a cemetery in the Middle of Nowhere, Kansas. There is something about cemeteries that I am actually intrigued by. I always somehow find it beautiful to be in a serene environment contrasted by fear and sadness. I imagine the lives these people lived, who they loved, who they were loved by, if they ever found meaning. I think about my own death and am afraid, not about the dying part but about not getting things right before the dying part comes. I am not even sure what “getting things right” means or if that is even possible but I decide that I intend to do it before I depart. Sunset is coming and it won’t slow down for me to ponder about life and death so I snap back into reality and get going.
I drive fast and steadily. I am trying to make it to Winfield, in the south east of Kansas before it gets dark. I have a place to stay tonight, family members of the very boss who I just helped out. The only thing that gives me strength for the next long cold hours is the thought of a warm bed and a shower. I keep thinking I’m almost there only to check the map and realize it is further than I thought. Those damn expectations again! For the first time on this trip I must resort to driving at night and make no warm-up breaks as the temperature keeps dropping.
My persistence pays off and I finally make it to the house a bit before 10pm. Over the next couple hours of getting to know these kind people I am thawed out mentally and physically by their warmth and their welcoming home. While I speak with the husband and wife, the daughter stays to herself on her computer in the corner of the living room. At first she seems anti-social but I realize that if she were, then she wouldn’t be in the room at all, so she just must be shy. Her eyes are fixed on her computer screen but I can tell she is listening to every word of our conversation. Eventually she opens up slowly after I mention that I am a Harry Potter fan. We start getting into conversation and eventually the parents go to bed and it is just us two talking about everything in life from the wizarding world to our own mundane muggle world. She shares her dreams and passions with me and I, her. It is a beautiful thing to step into other’s worlds and to let them in mine. I go to bed warm, grateful and unafraid. Simple yet profound interactions like this bring meaning and make me feel like I am getting things right.