Not quite settled down

Since Greg began his new job, he has spent less time exercising. His tae kwon do class at his old office still meets four times a week, but obviously Greg isn’t there to join them. I’ve been pushing him (Nagging? I wouldn’t do that!) to squeeze in a few more workouts.

A few days ago, Greg told our friend Ryan that he would like to try mountain biking. Ryan jumped at this idea. Ryan has been biking for years and has all of the gear to prove it. Greg has a 20-year-old bike that was probably considered a mountain bike long ago. Ryan said that there was an easy trail near our home, and so their trek was set.

I supported this idea even though Greg has almost no mountain biking experience. Greg used to be crazier. Not too crazy. I never felt that he was in mortal danger, but he used to be a little more willing to risk injuries in the name of adventure. I always liked that about him because I am afraid of everything.

I know that most men are crazy during their 20s. Then they find the serious partner or wife and have kids and settle down. All of the men in my life have “settled down” at this point. I hear women, particularly the mothers of these men, talk about this transition with glowing voices. “Isn’t it nice how he’s settled down?” And I feel a bit sad. Because that settling down seems to come with a loss of challenges and passions.

Don’t get me wrong. Being in a committed relationship and raising kids and maintaining long-term friendships is immensely fulfilling. But all of the days, months, years melt together as we go to the same jobs and follow the same routines. I want to do something crazy once in a while. I want to see Greg do something crazy once in a while. I want memories beyond the endless trips to the grocery store.

So I wished Greg well yesterday as he headed out for the mountain-biking adventure. He came back a little over an hour later. Things looked ugly. Smelled uglier.

His white sock was crimson. He lifted his sleeve to inspect scratches on his shoulder. “I went over the handlebars,” he said. He had also caught his ankle in the spoke of his bike, thus the bloody sock. And kicked into a cactus, spearing needles through his sneakers and into his toes because he didn’t have hard mountain-biking shoes. And broken the suspension on the front of his bike, making the trail even more difficult to navigate. Also, the trail had not been a beginner trail, but rather an advanced route chosen for its proximity to our house. He still had all of his teeth though! That’s what matters, right?

Greg showered and bandaged himself and limped about for the rest of the morning and afternoon, not making much of a fuss. Seven hours after returning from his trip, he asked me to look at his ankle, which was still bleeding.

“Well, I think you could have used a couple of stitches,” I said. “Do you want me to take you to the hospital?”

I could just imagine the other patrons we would find in the emergency room on the Fourth of July, people injured through some combination of explosives and alcohol.

Greg declined, and we headed off to our neighborhood barbecue, where the hostess, who is fortunately a nurse, provided Greg with some better medical supplies.

The wound is looking better today, and Greg insists that he would like to try mountain biking again after his bike is repaired. No word yet on whether he would go with Ryan again. At the barbecue yesterday, the first thing we talked about wasn’t our jobs or our kids or the local news. It was THE BIKE TRIP.

Sorry about the wounds, Greg. Thanks for the memories!