“There were new lands. His heart lifted.” -Thomas Wolf, “Look Homeward, Angel”
I am learning that being a human, in a biological sense, is quite difficult, or perhaps the correct word is annoying. My stomach has an endless appetite and is constantly ravenous. Despite the 120+ ounces of water I consume daily, I find myself thirsty. With that, the guilty phrase, “Hey guys, so uh, can we stop in the next town? I, uh, need to use the restroom again,” rains through the air at an unfortunate frequency. At times my legs ache in the most foreign, uncharted areas. Areas where one is unaware of said muscles and joints until they are finally awakened with the sharp pain of crippling defeat. And at times, my eyes refuse to regain life despite the amount of pressure I apply while rubbing them.
My body is in a constant nagging conversation with my brain, and with that fortunately, my heart sings along nursing my physical discomfort. And what distracts my brain from consuming itself and fuels my heart to be such a calming element? It is the very complication that started the grumbling! Humans!
The blatant displays of humanity are what lift my heart and keep my legs moving. Humanity that allows my soul to be awake with or without my body.
People are constantly taking care of me, and for no real reason at all except for the pure willingness to do so. I am invited into caring homes to rest my tired bones at night and fed beautifully-crafted food from the people who host us. Twice, people have opened up their homes to us despite even being home! In Burlington, Vermont we were instructed to just lock the door up when we left and upon my inquiring on why she would trust us, mere strangers, our host replied, “You don’t fit the profile. It’s not like you can fit a big screen television on the back of your bike…plus I don’t own a big screen television.” As I write this very post in Toronto I am in a kitchen belonging to someone I’ve never met. She merely left her keys to her apartment in a friend’s mailbox and left directions on how to obtain them.
People in cars constantly pull over on the side of the road. If we are suffering the pain associated with wind, hills, or mountains, people try to scoop us up in their vehicles to take us home a feed us like common puppies, but in a non-condescending way of course. Some people pull over just to ask about what in God’s land we are doing. Some give us local pointers, like one man who encouraged us to stop at the next country market because they have the best wheel of cheese in the back of the store and we had to try it.
He was right, the cheese was excellent.
We get honked at followed with an enthusiastic thumbs up. Days it seems that everyone around us is cheering us on despite what the weather has planned. I receive text messages from former hosts or helpers who check on our status and make sure we’re doing alright daily. Some are signed lovingly, with, “Mom.”
I have been snuck coffee from Tim Horton’s after not having enough (Canadian) money on my person to buy a cup. I have been given bananas and brownies from a very lovely ice cream shop in Vermont just to further fuel our bodies for the day. After a defeating day in Ottawa, two men invited us to their home to use their Internet and aided us in finding a place to stay for the evening. People give us directions, and drive off in continuation with their days, only to return 15 minutes later with a paper map they found to further guide us. I was given a new saddle for my bike purely because the one I had was not gender-specific to a woman. Despite my shrugs and attempts at convincing them otherwise, I was told, “You can lie to yourself all you want, but you can’t lie to me. I know how painful that Medieval torture device is.”
A barista in Toronto wet a paper towel and wiped bicycle grease from my uninformed forehead yesterday.
Instead of feeling like a stranger in a strange land, a feeling sure to divide one’s soul and body, I have found an extended family. A family centered around humanism. I have found people to be oh so lovely, and it is their kindness that fuels me from city to city.
With Gratitude and Love,