"Let's begin again -
Begin the begin ... "
- R.E.M., "Begin the Begin"
When our first child was born eight years ago, I immediately felt my life take on a new sense of purpose. I had a responsibility to this boy – to raise him properly, to teach him the important things in life, and to equip him for venturing into the world on his own some day.
But first, I had to get him home in one piece.
I still remember strapping him into his car seat as we left the hospital, and the careful manner that I drove our car on the way home. I came to a complete stop at every stop sign, and looked twice in all directions before crossing any intersection. I drove below the posted speed limits (believe me - I can't overemphasize how extremely out of character this point is), and conceded the right of way to every other driver on the road.
Every 10 seconds or so, my wife or I looked over our shoulders into the back seat to make sure he was doing OK. Sometimes one of us would reach back to place our fingers in his grasp - just to feel his touch, and to reassure him that we were still there with him.
(Somewhat surprisingly, this cautious awareness didn’t carry over to our later children, as the trip home with our second child was fairly routine. And when we drove home with our third child, my wife and I stopped at a grocery store for something to eat, and walked halfway across the parking lot before realizing that we had left our daughter in the back of the van. And yes, I’m going to come back and delete this paragraph before she’s old enough to read it.)
We finally made it home, and for the next few days, my wife and I didn’t do much more than hold our baby and look at him. He slept in a basinette next to our bed, and we took a lot of pictures of his first few days, to remember how it all started. Above all, we were filled with contentment, and the notion that no matter what awaited us on the road ahead, we were looking forward to the journey.
All these memories came back to me last week, when I walked into a bicycle shop in Santa Cruz to pick up my new triathlon bike.
Sure, in some ways, the circumstances were slightly different; for example, I didn't attend the delivery of this one, because I was working. But when I saw the bike set up on the fit machine through the window at the back of the store, and heard the shop owner tell me I could go in and see it now, I felt the same rush of excitement and possibility as I did in that labor and delivery room eight years ago. I half expected the bike shop guy to say, "Congratulations ... it's a Cervelo."
(I know, you think I’m exaggerating with this stuff. But really - do you think I could just make an analogy like this up?)
I spent the next hour getting properly fitted, and then it was time to load the bike into the car. I gently loaded it across the back seats - of the same car we drove my son home in, by the way - and double checked to make sure it was secured in place before starting up the engine.
On my way home, I drove as cautiously as possible. The last thing I wanted was to get broadsided by some truck while carrying my new bike in the back seat. So I let everyone merge in front of me, waited an extra second after stoplights turned green, and kept to the right hand lane on the freeway.
Every so often, I looked back over my shoulder into the backseat, and even reached back to gently squeeze the wheel with my thumb and forefinger, just to feel the tire pressure against my skin.
I made it home safely, then brought the bike inside the house and placed it against the wall beside our bedroom. For the next couple of days, I wasn’t able to ride it, so I spent a lot of time just gazing at it and imagining us on the open road together.
(Another big difference this time around: for some reason, my wife isn’t quite as excited about this bike as she was about our kids. It’s inexplicable to me, honestly.)
I also took a lot of pictures, which I’ll display in a photo essay for my next post. But I’m going to drag the process out for a few days - because I want to savor this period of new beginnings and unlimited potential for just a little while longer, before we head into the big, wide world together.
I don’t know exactly what lies ahead for this bike and me (well, except for four weeks from now. I’m pretty certain exactly where I'll be then.), but I’m positive of this: no matter where these wheels and pedals lead me, I’m definitely going to enjoy the journey.
So here's to another new beginning.
April 9, 2007
"Let's begin again -