Monday, September 03, 2007

Walhydra's birthday present

In her better moments...perhaps during a well-aspected September Moon in Gemini before a Leap Year—if she squints hard enough... Walhydra is amused at her own Virgoan thoroughness at "doing things that are good for her."

"I'm not obsessive," she snaps compulsively, before hubby Jim can say anything. "I don't do anything I don't enjoy...well, not for long...if I can rationalize quitting it...for something better...um.... What was I saying?"

Jim observes the safety of silence and makes goo-goo eyes at Walhydra as she wheels her new birthday present toward the front door. "See you in a few minutes, Lance," he giggles.

*Hmmph!*

Yes. A week ago, in honor of her fifty-s-s-s-seventh birthday, Walhydra bought herself a new bicycle.

Now, the gentle reader must remember that Walhydra is a preacher's kid son of Depression-era preacher's and farmer's kids—and a Swiss-German Lutheran Quaker to boot.

So...in the midst of her daily frugality (not counting sushi and Thai dinners out with hubby), any time she actually springs for a toy, it must not only be "useful" but also of "high quality," "built to last," and all those other obsolete consumer values of the pre-credit card, pre-throw away 1950s, when Walhydra first learned to shop.

A year and a half ago, trying to improve her health, Walhydra was getting more than usually frustrated with the lack of cooperation evinced by her daily schedule.

(Virgos are good at blaming clocks and calendars for not expanding and contracting time as needed.)

"What's the point," she announced, "of paying the YMCA $52 a month, when I can't get there three times every week to work out?!"

She knew she actually felt better any time managed to get to the Y. She tried evenings right after work...but each evening ended at a different time. She tried going at 6:30 AM, which felt not only wonderful physically but also virtuous in the extreme.

But, really, now! 6:30 AM?!!

This was around the time Walhydra finally joined the local Taoist Tai Chi class every Tuesday evening. Much better than self-imposed, sporadic yoga, or the stationary bike and weight machines, and more sociable.

Walhydra has spent most of her life leaning slightly to the right due to non-paralytic childhood polio, so it's been a delight to experience the restorative effects of this limbering, strengthening form of movement.

It's a new practice which—when she's not too lazy or depressed in the morning to get up at 6 AM...here we go again...crawl onto her witchy sun porch and do it—actually makes her feel happier and taller and straighter.

(Well...maybe not "straighter." More erect...oops! Um, being reincarnated in a gay male, would-be, etc., does mess with the vernacular.)

But for a year she kept on paying the Y, and she kept hearing her body say, "I need more exercise."

Until recently.

A few months back she started asking questions of the two guy librarians at Main Library who bike, one of whom rides to work from her own neighborhood. Aha!

They advised her kindly (without teasing an ignorant old guy who wants to start out) about what kind of bike to get, and they steered her toward a trustworthy local dealer.

Frugal, dark Lutheran, witchy Quaker that she is, Walhydra determined that this would be her birthday present to herself.

(Last year it was a new computer...to replace the almost ten-year-old, oil-burning Pentium II with the Millennium Edition OS—which had defragged its own reboot routine into the memory bin a year earlier.)

She planned the shopping trip for her Thursday off, the week before her birthday and headed for OpenRoad Bicycles. She got stage fright when the guy proposed a test ride, pretending she needed to think about it.

(Well, after all, she hasn't ridden a bike for maybe 30 years and is no judge of technology she hasn't yet used.)

But eventually the sheer hi-tech blackness of the toy enticed her to try it.

"Mikey likes it!" she realized after only a block or two.

So....

Here is this expensive, "aggressive all-terrain bike" (from the promo literature), sitting in the alcove off the living room where the kittens can sniff at it.

Specialized Hardrock Sport Bike
And here is Walhydra, struggling out the door in her bike helmet.

She came back a few hours ago, proud that after just one week she can make it the whole mile (on flat streets) to Five Points and back again, almost without running out of breath.

"Well...it's another practice," she says.

Then Walhydra realizes that she's been using this word "practice" a lot recently.

Taoist Tai Chi practice. Sitting meditation practice. Quaker faith and practice.

Hmm.... Is this a clue or something?

Back during her grade school years, Walhydra used to practice piano between weekly lessons. It was very frustrating. Walhydra wanted play pieces, not to practice.

During those early years of practicing scales and chords, it seemed to her like an uninteresting assignment in school: memorize these and play them back to the teacher.

Only years later, long after she had given up on piano, she watched a bass guitarist friend practicing...and it hit her:

"Oh, that's what practicing was for. So I could find those notes and strings and groups of notes without looking or thinking about it. Why didn't anyone tell me?"

Sometimes now Walhydra thinks maybe she actually should believe in reincarnation... except that it would be nice to be able to remember what you learned the last time around before you were already in your 50s and on your way down hill.

But, anyway, at least now she realizes that her drive is slowing down to a more comfortable pace. And that she is...um...a teeny, tiny bit more patient with herself.

"Don't raise your hairy eyebrows!" she says sideways to hubby Jim, in case he's reading this.

And she finds that the inch by inch progress of practicing feels much more attainable and more rewarding than the disappointment that Virgo high standards and scrupulousness can sometimes create.

And so...

"If I can just get myself up around 5:30 every morning to do Tai Chi and then ride...."

Happy Birthday, and

Blessèd Be.

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