Thursday and the breeze that came with it. 32 miles and the peace that came with it. Trees along the highway and the shade that came with them. Lisa waiting for us at the Back Alley Café and the deep body hug that came with her. The cyclists who came from San Diego and the stories that came with them. The Taj Garage and the oasis of the back garden that came with it. A storm passing and the clarity that came with it. The back yard and the trellis of new tomatoes. Avery and his handshake. Harry and the way he really looks at you. The guests ambling shyly in. Lisa, proud, in her t-shirt. How easy it was to tuck into her big heart. My people, I wrote to Laurie later, because you always know when you meet one. Jack’s woodworking tools. Nicole’s tiny art. Moses and Paxton and a poem about canoeing. The twins and their mother, holding it all. The little library Harry painted in a color called Misty Traveler. How a man named Charlie in Fort Morgan paved the way for an intersection in Hastings. Russian salad. Santa Fe soup. Homemade bread with dilled cream cheese and cucumbers sliced paper-thin. The nature of sustenance. The sustenance of nature. The word “radiant.” The light at 7 o’clock in the evening. Quilts on the grass. Nebraska steaks right off the grill. Kale and avocados and strawberries. Broccoli from the CSA. Warm beer bread and soft butter. Cold beer from last month’s wedding. The dinner table, passing heavy bowls, touching down to the center of things. Late evening cappuccinos. “I can make them small,” she said. The dark drive to the observatory. Tracy and Dan and the moon magnified 80 times and Saturn even more. Dozens of moons. Trying to grasp how long a million light years really is. The rotation of the telescope. Cygnus. Mars. A smoke trail where a star once was. The ministers who climbed the steps to get a better look. A gift of parrot feathers. The almost unbearable size of the universe. The almost unbearable closeness of it. The magnetics of connection. The language, often wordless, that says “I see you. I see you.”
Amy says . . .
Saturn magnified 200 times. The moon larger than life. Radiant. Radiant. Radiant. I am in awe when this immense universe closes in and the world suddenly feels so small. So cozy. So warm and forgiving. After a rough day off, we breezed through the 35 miles from Minden to Hastings and were greeted on the sidewalk in front of the Back Alley Bakery by Lisa Smith with a huge hug and a heart open so wide I swear I could see clear to the other side of the Milky Way.
Just after we sat down for lunch we noticed two young women pulling up on their bicycles, loaded down with gear, packs on the front wheel and the back, including guitars! They saw our tandem bicycle and commented that they needed to find out who was riding it. I raised my hand and in a rush we began to compare notes about the journey. They were riding from San Diego to Montreal without a support vehicle, towing their instruments and sharing music and stories with the people they meet. While they walked their bikes down the block to park them, we joked about suddenly feeling inadequate.
When they came back to grab a table, they said, "You two aren't by any chance the poets, are you?" Our jaws dropped. They knew us? It turns out that we all stopped at the same bike shop in Fort Morgan, Colorado on our way through to Nebraska. We had given the owner, Charlie, our Moo cards to leave on the counter. He had given one to Emma and Lisa and told them they had just missed us. And in that incredibly miraculous way the universe sometimes works, there they were at the same café just a few days later bumping into us by complete coincidence. We couldn't stop gabbing. Talking about the weather, the riding, the differences between tandems and riding solo, the people we had met along the way, and the kindness of strangers, the difference in our ages (they are 21 and 25, we are . . . not), what it is like to be women out here on the roads, Sky Queens, the sense of empowerment we feel reaching for our dreams, the strange looks you get, the friends you meet, the miles we all still had to ride. It was fate. Kismet. Karma. Good fortune. Call it what you will, our worlds were destined to collide. And that is how I feel about every day out here on the road. No matter who we meet, each person opens a new universe within us and the one outside of us grows a little smaller, a little brighter, a little more radiant.