In the Summer of 2003 I was invited to participate in the RAGBRAI. What the hell is that? I’m not surprised, I had no idea either. It’s the “Registrar’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa”. Yes, bicycle ride across the state of Iowa. The whole state. On a bike. A pedal bike, not a vroom vroom motorcycle bike. A human powered across the relentless hills of Iowa. You thought it was flat dincha? Yeah, common mistake, I thought it was flat too. But the hills are relentless. Which means when you’re going downhill thinking “aaa finally I get to take it easy for a bit” suddenly before you know it you’ve gotta start pushing your way back up another fucking hill!
I was going through my divorce from No.2 (this’ll make Ninja Blogger smile) and this woman I knew from work told me I had to go to the RAGBRAI. So I took my bike and hit the local hills (I was living in Ottawa, Canada’s capital at the time) across the bridge in the lovely Gatineau Park. I rode and rode trying to train myself for pedaling 650 miles in 7 days. That’s the RAGBRAI challenge. 650 miles in 7 days. In the scorching humid unhuman heat of Iowa.
Then, I strapped my bike on my rack, bought a map and drove out to Des Moines Iowa. Divorce does that to a suddenly single woman. Plan out a summer vacation to Iowa. Why not? I drove out to that woman’s house I knew from work. Actually I knew nothing of her, especially the fact that she was a cat lady. A cat lady with a shitload of cats. A cat lady who did not believe in cleaning out cat litters. Imagine a house, in the scorching hot & humid summer of Iowa with 1 window AC unit and every other window closed (not to waste that precious ac from that one friggin unit go to waste). She invited me to drive out to her house the day before the event started, spend the night there then they’d take me to RAGBRAI’s 1st destination point. My lungs are still stinging from that rancid air. Cats. Dirty litter boxes. Closed windows. How do you spell stifening or is it stifeling? No really, look at that, I don’t know and don’t want to spell check it, it was THAT bad.
So… Sunday, Monday, Tuesday: I pedal and pedal and pedal. Crash early each night in my little tent so I could survive the next day’s crazy ride. Then on Wednesday I decide: “ENOUGH!” I came here for a va-ca-tion! VACATION! Not hell boot camp in Io-fuckin-wa! So at the end of the day I decide I will party. Have fun. Let my hair down. I met these 2 girls eager to party. And we hit the town. First stop: mexican restaurant and margariiiiitas! 2nd stop: RAGBRAI’s beer garden – boring. Bars are bursting everywhere so we decide to sashay on over to them. The girls meet guys, hook up, but we stick together (they’re my life preserver as I have NO idea where they live, my tent is hitched up on their front lawn) so I cling to them like a Bounce sheet on a t-shirt.
Finally bars are closing down. As we head out and start making our way to their car, reluctantly, since they’re clinging to their new found love… we hear music coming from some downstairs bar. So on instinct I walk towards the music like a fly goes to the light. They follow me, like the dog will follow a package of bacon.
I walk downstairs, to the left is a dance floor full of people. To the right is a bar. I walk like a zombie towards the dance floor, I feel pulled by some unknown force. As I am getting closer to the crazy dancers, a guy walks out of the crowd and heads straight towards me. He’s looking at me like he knew me, like he was expecting me, like he knew I was coming.
I look at him and freeze. That is the guy! That’s the guy I had in my mind. the guy I pictured. the guy that popped up whenever I wondered who I’d end up with… He comes to me and says: “If you’re here alone, there must be something wrong with you, tell me now so I know what to expect!” My knees are threatening to let go. My legs are jelly. The world suddenly stopped spinning. I’m dizzy. I tell him: “Do you mind if I hang on to you? I think I’m going to faint.”
It was one of those earth shattering moments. It happened 7 years ago. I knew I had met the love of my life, tacky pucky cliché… I know, but it is what it is. Since then it’s been nightmare with each border crossing, but worth every moment of it.
Booby is not only my best friend. He’s my life and I am his. We belong together like milk and chocolate chip cookies. Every morning he wakes up and smiles at me. Every single morning… he. smiles, at. me. SMILES. And he does this amazing thing. You know when dogs sniff your ear? That’s his way of telling me he loves me. He sniffs my ear. It’s a joyful and incredible way of being loved. When he climbs on top of me, he does the happy dog tail wagging thing. And sniffs my ear.
I love him and I’m looking forward to spending the rest of my life with him.