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  • Writer's pictureGina Greenlee, Author

Practicing Enough: The Ride

Woman on Motorcycle
Image credit: Zac Wolf, Unsplash

Image credit: Eduardo Taulois, Unsplash

Saturday Afternoon

Bob told me, “We’re riding tonight to Ybor City to check out Hamburger Mary’s and the drag queen show Lloyd was talking about.”


“Great,” I said, with a self-invite about to leave my mouth. I love riding, and had learned new roads and skills after joining Bob’s motorcycle club. Then my instinct prompted me to ask, “Is Valerie going?” That’s Bob’s wife. “Yes, the four of us, me, Valerie, Lloyd and Rita.” 


Image credit: Harley-Davidson Unsplash

“Ah, it’s couples’ night.” 


“Yeah,” he said.


After my bike safety check, on the way out I thanked him for having one of his mechanics increase my tire pressure, no charge; he does it for all customers. I rode off.


And felt spectacularly sad. 

Woman laying on beach
Image credit: Taisiia Stupak, Unsplash

Checking In

Why am I feeling sad?


Couple’s night. Even when I’ve been part of a couple, I wasn’t keen on group dining. That wasn’t it. I’m introverted. And when with others, I prefer one-on-one exchanges.


Neither did I want to ride to Tampa’s club-drenched neighborhood on a Saturday night; I grew up in the mother of all cities.


What I loved about small-town living was easy access to acres of pristine land. And rural rides. Motoring out of my peaceful little beach town into a city of three million on a Saturday night held no sway for me. The point of riding was to be, surrounded by nature. 

So. Didn’t want a date. Didn’t want to ride a motorcycle into a traffic snarl. And, had seen the world’s best drag shows in Las Vegas.


What did I want?


As I sat on a bench at my local gas station drinking iced tea in the sun, the answer came. The couples were having an adventure: previewing a restaurant and entertainment experience as a potential future outing for the motorcycle club’s Saturday night dinner ride. That sounded like fun. The adventure of exploring something new


Stay with It

I sat with the sadness and whisper of regret for not having created my own family. Nope. That wasn’t it, either. I was certain that had been the best choice for me then and now. Most of the time I was giddy with my mate-free and child-free status. What was going on?

Dog under blanket
Image credit: Matthew Henry, Unsplash

Ah, I’m bored. I understood boredom to be familiarity. If I kept tunneling deeper into it, rather than try to “relieve” the boredom or “get rid of it,” then I’d come through the other side with new awareness.


Stay with it. 

Image credit: Maria Lupan, Unsplash


I remembered a page from a Wall Street Journal Sunday magazine that I plucked from the free bin at the public library. A picture of a woman in a Chanel ad wearing a fabulous wig. In addition to my bike’s tire pressure check, I also had on my list to explore a local wig shop. 


It was a spectacular March afternoon: 85 degrees with colors everywhere. A comforting heat with a 15-degree windchill made the ride perfect. Not quite 4:00 pm I went to the library and explored the shelves. A book about Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s drawings caught my eye. His visual art captivated me. A quick glance at the introduction by his daughter, Nannette, revealed how deeply he enjoyed art. In contrast, Vonnegut thought of his novels as “clerical” work. Despite his notoriety, writing proved difficult for him, in part because of self-imposed pressure that every book be a bestseller.


I checked Kurt Vonnegut’s Drawings from the library. The catalogue of books I’d authored grew, because I intentionally explored processes to make writing fun: creating a deliberate practice of bringing joy to writing. For me, writing is one of the passions I wake up to every morning and return to each evening, engaging it in relationship. Writing is not a dreaded task from which to distract myself. 

Black woman jumping
Image credit: Sergi Dolcet-Escrig, Unsplash

Ah, Now I Remember

That feeling of cement in my solar plexus lifted. I grinned. I was on an adventure. I had forgotten that I didn’t have to be anywhere; I was beholden to no one. I could indulge joy. It would be another three hours before the sun set. One of Gulf Coast living’s many gifts.


I decided I would take another of my rural rides the next day; Sunday when humanity was still – asleep or groggy from the previous night’s shenanigans. Or at worship. Tonight, though, in the high, bright Saturday sun of south Florida’s west coast, I’d preview Sunday’s ride.


Dirt Road
Image credit: Sai Nigham, Unsplash

My favorite back roads to the farms, ranches and sweet-smelling orange groves had been detoured for neighborhood development. I wanted to know now if those routes had finally opened so that on Sunday morning there’d be no surprises.


Yes! My favorite routes now restored, I rode. And kept riding. Further than I had intended. That’s the way of adventure. You don’t know. If you did, it wouldn’t be an adventure. 


The Way of Adventure

As I rode, I followed the feeling of discovery. What happens if I don’t turn right onto State Route (SR) 70 but cross it? I discovered that Singletary Road becomes Wauchula Road and I remembered that I’d been on this road before. For one of my first rural solo rides Bob, the bike shop owner who was previewing entertainment in Ybor City, had mapped out the route for me. Also, days earlier on a Thursday, I had passed the outlet to this road: SR 64. I barreled west on it from Plant City to be on time for a doctor’s appointment. I was making topographical connections. One of my favorite experiences in the world is to connect dots. This adventure had become larger and had taken on a fuller shape. 


I rode northeast home but missed my usual left turn. I wondered what landmark to note next time so I wouldn’t miss the turn on Sunday. Why wonder? The sun is still high, my gas tank is full, and I can do whatever the hell I wantRetracing my steps, I noticed the coral-colored curbstone for an office park. There’s my turn. 

Food in grocery store
Image credit: Emmy Smith, Unsplash

I realized that turn placed me half a mile from a local fresh market. Lucky me. Saturday is Customer Appreciation Day at the market. “Free ice cream” buzzed the air.


Sun in clouds
Image credit: Diego, Unsplash

After finishing my vanilla cone, I road home as the sun began to set. 


Everything had changed. I had changed.


I had practiced being enough by sitting with myself and my feelings, versus running from them. That was the gift of this afternoon. Rather than decide that I wasn’t enough because I wasn’t part of a couple or I didn’t have a plan for that night, instead I sat still. And remembered: I can do anything I want. I decide. The reason I chose this life. As a little girl I dreamed of peace and tranquility. To be free of fear and anxiety. Fun-filled days. To fully experience my emotions and indulge my moods without being questioned or shamed because of them. To inhabit whimsy and exploration at will.


In this practice of enough, adult actions had nourished my childhood dream. It was simpler than I thought. Small towns, quiet country roads reminiscent of the long drives I took with my father on summer vacations to Virginia where we’d drive not saying a word, content simply to be with one another. In this year-round tropical climate, I was living an adult life crafted with intention to include the passions and comforts of my youth: Swimming at summer camp. Hiking. Picking blackberries in the sun on Staten Island, grappling toward the deepest, darkest berries without risking bee stings or thorns. Daylong artmaking. Treasure hunts. Row-boating on the lake. Sitting around a campfire singing songs. 


I awoke up the next morning, on a Sunday, deeply rested; and content in the goodness and more-than-enough of my life. 


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