Nonni in Germany: The Bike Episode #2A


When last we met, our intrepid heroine (me) had just face planted on the bike trail. If you need to find out what on earth this grandmother was doing on an e-bike, you can read that part right here.

The afternoon was passing, and we still had about 18 kilometers to ride before we got back to the hotel. The weather was perfect, sunny with a cool wind and gorgeous passing clouds. It had been a really memorable day, and I didn’t want to ruin it for everybody by being a wimp.

So we pedaled on, up and over the dunes of Sylt (look it up). Paul kept on checking back, to make sure I was OK. Katja and Jorg, our hosts, were riding ahead of us, but more slowly than I knew those two healthy, annoying Germans could go.

Lucas, sweet young man that he is, stayed more less beside me, making sure that I wasn’t about to have a heart attack or anything.

For the first ten minutes after my ignominious spill, I went really slowly. My knee ached, and my shin was all scraped up. My right hand hurt, and I was still sure I was going to get a black eye.

And I was scared. REALLY scared. My legs and hands were shaking as we rode along, and I kept fighting back tears.

I mean, come ON. I’m 60 years old! I’m overweight! I have fibromyalgia! I fell off a freakin’ BIKE!  I wanted my hotel bed. I wanted that hot shower. I wanted the spa.

I wanted a big big glass of wine.

But I was a trooper. I chatted with Lucas, and slowly everyone sort of relaxed. I pedaled mostly with my left leg, which spared my sore right knee, but which I knew would give me serious left buttock ouchies the next day.

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The beauty of Sylt.

As I looked out at the dunes all around us, and the lovely pale heather that covered it, I decided to take out my cell phone and make some little videos of the ride. This would accomplish two things.

It would let me make a record of this magical place, and it would let everyone know that I was a tough old bird who wasn’t about to fall apart after one ass-over-teakettle maneuver. So I reached into my bra and took out my phone.

OK.

See, Katja had talked me into buying skinny jeans, because my old baggy Levis were so unsightly. I was wearing said fashionable skinny jeans that day, meaning that my pockets were too small and way too tight for a phone. So….I had stashed mine in my bra, which has plenty of room, thank you.

Now I pulled it out, checked it quickly to make sure it was on video, and started to record. Please keep in mind that I was riding an e-bike, now with only one hand, along a path through the dunes, and into a strong wind. I held out the camera, narrating as I went.

“To my left you can see the majestic dunes, with the North Sea churning beyond.”

You get the idea. I guess I was aiming for something along the lines of the Discovery Channel meets Masterpiece Theater. I thought I did rather well.

We passed through a flock of sheep, went up and over the dunes, and came back into the town.

And so, at last, after riding the distance of a marathon, my sore knee, my scraped face and my bruised hand got back to the hotel. We hugged our hosts, thanked them profusely for a day we will honestly never forget, then made plans to meet for dinner in an hour.

Up to the room we went, Paul and I, for a good hot shower and a short rest.

I headed to the shower first, given my various scrapes and bruises. I undressed slowly, carefully.

And here I have to explain something to you. For reasons which my doctors can’t seem to explain, I bruise like an overripe peach. Bump the edge of a table, I’ll have a black bruise for two weeks.

So I stripped. Huh. My knee looked fine. Sore, but no bruise. A tiny scrape on the shin. My face was completely unmarked. What a relief!

Next I took off my shirt and bra and let out a howl that brought Paul running.

My right breast was sporting a baseball sized, dark purple bruise. There was a matching one under that breast, and a slightly smaller one just above my navel. I looked like I had been beaten with sticks. It was grotesque, I am not kidding!

After the shock wore off, and I realized that they didn’t really hurt that much, I relaxed and took my shower. At least I had figured out where the handlebars ended up when I crashed.

As Paul took his shower, I decided to look through my photos and videos. I mean, it had been a pretty humiliating afternoon, what with the splat on the bike trail. Now the huge ugly bruises on my flabby self made me feel even worse.

At least my videos would make me feel more competent. I thought about my talented narration. Booting up the video clip, I smiled to myself.

And I saw this:

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Ahahahaha! I have four video clips of my own jowls…..and none of the narration even recorded…

 

I am….a hoarder.


What a horrific realization.

I am like those sad, sad people on TV. The ones who mean well but simply cannot let go of certain cherished items. They collect the special objects that they crave, endlessly organizing them, moving them, putting them in little boxes and saving them up.

Eventually, they fill their homes with those precious items.  Piles of baby shoes, mountains of picture frames, continents of old newspapers.  Before you know it, they are sleeping on a stack of pink towels, eating breakfast surrounded by a tower of unused Christmas ornaments.  The family gets worried, an earnest psychologist is called in to help, and the TV cameras begin to roll.

I realized this morning that I am scarily close to having my moment of televised shame. Oh, the horror!

It started innocently enough, but I’m sure that every hoarder says the same thing. See, Paul and I just got back from a three day boat trip with friends on Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands. It was, in a word, paradise.  I’m pretty sure that when I die, my personal version of Heaven will be almost an exact replica of this trip. (OK, the boat might be bigger, and have a more private toilet, but other than that…..not much difference!)  We were with people we love.  The weather was hot, humid and breezy.  The boat rocked gently day and night, and the calm, cool water of the ocean felt like silk on our skin.  We ate delicious foods, drank cold, crisp drinks and we laughed more than we have in the past six months.

Part of the pleasure, for me, is that on deserted ocean beaches, surrounded by the sounds and smells of the Atlantic, I become someone new.  Hesitant, out of shape, anxious me breathes in the hot salty air and begins to melt away.  Each molecule of briny summer wind that enters my lungs goes to work and does it’s magic.  Within a moment, my back straightens, my muscles tighten, my eyes open wide to take in the silvery glimmers that race across the water. I turn into my dream self.  I jump off the bow of the boat. All by myself,  I swim to shore and walk the rocky beach. I don a swim mask and fins, and I fly around the rocks and swaying underwater forests as gracefully as a sea sprite.

Every time I visit a place as idyllic and as restful as this one, I gather little mementoes. I want so much to hold onto the feeling of “ocean” me! I want to enfold the moments and absorb them deep into my cells to keep them always with me.  So I find little treasures as I walk my favorite beaches, and I bring those treasures home.

And therein lies the problem.

This morning I woke up and decided to sort through the treasures from this trip.  I pulled out the one small ziploc bag that held my little gifts, and poured them onto the coffee table.  Beautiful!

I picked up my best piece of beach glass- cobalt blue!- and held it in my hand.  Just touching it filled me with the memory of the hot sun pressing on my shoulders as Wendy and I strolled along the tide line. Carefully, I gathered each little piece of polished glass and put them in a small pile.   Next I turned to the beautiful pieces of wampum, admiring their smoothness and the pearly sheen of purple on each surface.   I sighed with pleasure. I decided that before I added this stash to the rest of my beach treasures, I would organize and clean them all.  Every little treat that I have found and saved on beach walks going back for 40 years.

I started to gather them all and wash them off.

All of them.

All three glass dishes, both big woven baskets, the two big shells in the bathroom, the little dish of colorful stones.  I decided to organize them a bit. Stones here, scallop shells there.  The clams, the oysters, the whelks and the mussels. Limpets and sand dollars and pieces of wampum.  By the time I was finished, my entire dining room table was covered with my precious memories. It took me three hours, but I found each one a special place to be displayed, and carefully put them out.  Want to see?

A few more vacations like this one, and I’ll need an intervention for sure!

But aren’t they beautiful?

Post Script: One hour after writing this post, I found TWO more containers of beach treasure!  You should see my wampum now.