Hope is something that you can ride on. I had left the states knowing that my 20 year old cat, Kool Thing, a more than purrfect little black piece of feline work, the type of cat that people who hate cats love and people who are allergic to cats pet, was going in for surgery to remove a golf ball sized cyst from the top of her head. Last word I received before leaving Danseys Inn was that it was touch and go. So when, upon waking to an amber dawn and a sparsely clouded sky, I took it as a good sign. Thats a good sign thing right? Like a the storm has passed type trope thing that everyone gets, brass tacks good sign material, true hope material, the kind of awe inspiring image that has made its way onto posters in the breakrooms of office parks across the US always emblazoned with powerfully inspiring quotes from Gandhi, Moses, or Scott Stapp. With all that in mind it could be said that I had a pretty good feeling about the day and my little old cat’s health. Breakfast and couple of coffees later I was still up, feeling great, but when we stepped out to start our ride a self-righteous “tailwind” bummed rushed our little caravan dragging behind it a grey rumpled shroud of clouds. With that amber promise now drained from the sky my outlook went from promising to bleak and we traveled through howling bursts of wind while pushing our bikes atop fist size gravel spackled with drifts of crusty brittle snow. Did I mention that we were all in shorts? Well we were and you see, shorts in a cold, biting, snow chilled, wind situation, like the one we had on our hands during this particular phase of the trip, tend to channel discomfort towards your body rather than away. As it turns out the advantages of shorts, in particular their “short-ness,” that makes them ideal in a “summer” climate, are a huge disadvantage in cold weather situations. So it went; hopelessness and chills for the duration of our morning.
“Eventually the clouds did break, or rather they were pushed aside by the galling wind. Past midday we dropped off the hillside, and back into some degree of humanity.”
After two days we were back in cell coverage country. The team’s screens lit up, beaming information into our little piece of the world. My cat had passed in the night. I called my wife, charges be damned, things were tough. We talked about Kool Thing, her final days, hours, moments, we cried a little, these things are sad. Eventually I had to go, phone off and preparing to ride on Patrick made an announcement. “I’m having a BOY!” Highs and Lows right? Fate is fickle, and the world, my simplistic, shortsighted, solipsistic world has a way of balancing itself out, or at least I make it so. As it happens Patrick is one of those allergic feline-misanthropes who happened to love Kool Thing, so I can’t help but think that her little wise assed, so sweet, too cool for school cat energy made its way over to Patrick’s wife’s body processing plant is helping make their little tyke even cooler, as if they would need it. Maybe that golden dawn was her little farewell, a final good by, our chance to bask in the simple promise of a new day. Maybe not, but that’s what I believe.