Thursday, July 19, 2012

Myths Wrongly Interpreted.

Stage 16 - Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon.

I can't quite collect my thoughts on this one. I wanted to talk about change, about how change is a constant, perhaps the only constant, that what we think is permanent is just change moving slower than we perceive. But then I also wanted to talk about the night that I took the picture above. So maybe I'll start with that.

It was the night of the Dirty Deeds Prologue, 2012. Earlier that evening I'd posted on Facebook that I hadn't felt this good since Christmas Eve of 1998. Man, that was a night. I grew up in Stawell, a tiny town in the country that everyone leaves as soon as they finish school. But on Christmas Eve, everyone comes back to celebrate with their families. As a consequence, on Christmas Eve everyone ends up at the pub.

It's a long time ago now, so my memories are once again reduced to flashes, still pictures that I do my best to piece together. I'd recently fallen in with Angela Dufty, and she had tied her dreadlocks back into a ponytail with a bright red ribbon. My exgirlfriend Nadya Miller was there with her new boyfriend, and we'd all agreed to sing Fairytale of New York at midnight, but when the hour came we were happily songjacked by Happy Xmas (War is Over), which more folks seemed to know the words to. For some reason I climbed on to Dougie Burkhalter's back, and he carried me across the packed bar. It was noisy, the bar was packed, and I felt like I was in love with everyone there, the town itself, the night sky. At the end of the evening Angela and I walked outside, perhaps walked home, kept singing through the empty streets. And the next day it was Christmas, and everything was different.

The evening of the Prologue is more recent, so I remember it a little better. And, looking back over Facebook, it's easy to follow the trail that was blazed that evening. What I didn't put on the internet, however, was sitting in Jen Jen's kitchen, buzzing from coffee and hip hop and anticipation, and telling her that I had a feeling about the night ahead, and that I hadn't felt like this since that Christmas Eve fourteen years ago. "I'm not sure how," I urgently told her, "but after tonight, everything is going to be different. Something is going to happen tonight. Something big."

We didn't sing that night, but we danced, and when we dance, the night belongs to us. The Prologue was, of course, a cycling event, so folks were at the bar still wearing their Sidis. We held hands with girls wearing padded gloves and bumped into dudes in lycra. It was cold, and when we stepped outside we could see ourselves breathing. We talked and yelled and called on the band for one more song, one more song. We arrived battered and bruised, scarred from bike crashes and too many late nights and too much coffee or beer or worse, and left with our hearts bursting out of our chests, the taste of blood in our mouths, in love with everyone there, these people, this city, the night sky. And the next day, when we woke up, everything was different. 

That's the thing about change, though. It's constant. Everything is always different. All that matters is the magnitude, whether the platonic shift is gradual or dramatic, a slow edging across the sea or an earthquake. Whether or not something was big. And that's something only time will tell.

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