Thursday, March 26, 2015

lost, found and bamboo fly rods

Many years ago, while mountain biking on the Continental Divide in the Rocky Mountains,  I literally panicked near dusk at the bottom of a treacherous decent...

Me:  "Babe, we are lost."

Bill:   "We are not lost...we can always go back the way we came."


Bill and I met over 21 years ago in Athens, Georgia.  We were both in school at the University of Georgia but that is not where it all began...I worked at the music magazine in town and Bill was a professional road cyclist (please note that even then we both had low paying interesting jobs).  The bike shop and magazine shared the same building on Broad Street  and we would literally pass one another several times a day. 

Bill quietly ignored me came and I went without notice while he trained and worked as a bike mechanic when not on the road racing.

I demurely threw myself at him tried to get his attention over and no avail...let's see...
...I made friends with his friends
...I would repeatedly "visit" the bike shop to "borrow" the vacuum
...I would "cool myself off" at the only available AC window unit in the building in front of his bike stand (okay, this is where I went too far...but COME ON!)

Here is how our first date happened.  The following is true.  It's early evening circa 1993...Bill is sitting on the back of a car in our building's parking lot drained after a long training ride...I am leaving the magazine with a stack of albums (yes...the vinyl kind...I even remember what I was carrying...Pylon, Superchunk's No Pocky for be exact and Stevie Nicks), 

Bill:  (head hanging and body slumped over after riding 10 million miles on a training ride barely making eye contact) Hi

Me:  "Hi, wanna come over on Thursday?  I don't have cable TV but I just rented Fast Times at Ridgemont High...we can watch that.

Bill:  "Ummmm..."

Me:  "Also, I make killer meatballs."

Bill:  "What time?"

We were married on a Thursday a few months are some highlights...

I wore my mother's dress
It was the first marriage ceremony that our priest performed
Bill threw up in the middle of our ceremony (google introvert)...really
My brother video taped said throw up
The food at the reception was delicious
My parents had to cut the cake, made the toast and danced in our place (see Bill threw up)
My sweet niece, Rebekah, was our flower girl

young, dumb and in love
We lived on so little.  We traveled simply (except for the garage full of gear we always dragged along).  We perused our dreams.  The remainder of the world thought we were delusional too young to understand the reality of it all.  We heard a chorus of chatter about the "living in the real world" and "just wait" from everyone but my father  on a regular basis. 

Here's some presumptuous helpful advice through the years:

"You cannot marry one another after a few months...just wait."
"What?!?  No corporate ladder with benefits?" (remember 20 years ago...this was ridiculous)
"You cannot live on love alone...just wait."
"You cannot just buy a sailboat in New Orleans, drop it in the ocean and take a left! You will die."
"You absolutely cannot pay the bills making an antiquated fishing pole...just wait."

Yet, we spoke openly to one another about living sincerely...never losing sight of us.  It seemed as though the easiest way to find ourselves was to stay as close together as possible.  In fact, the entire catalyst for our bamboo fly rod making company was to do something in tandem.  Go with your strengths. 

We spent our 20s and much of our 30s creating Oyster Bamboo Fly Rods, sailing (hence my son's name Cutter), mountain biking, reading books, fly fishing and traveling (rinse and repeat).  We worked and played hard.  We zigged and zagged through life's obstacles and always landed on our feet.

Then came our Rite of Passage...

Shit got real.  Life complicated itself.  We navigated through births, deaths, illnesses and life's unavoidable floods and assholes.  There has not been any one event per say but there were days that it felt like we were being swallowed whole and the life we created actually lost sight of it's very own visceral origins.  It's so true that your measure as a human being is how you handle inevitable complexities.   All the while, we kept our sense of humor and allowed joy to ground us but there were days that we felt umm...lost.


This feeling is the impetus for our future.

Me:  "Babe, we are lost."

Bill:   "We are not lost...we can always go back the way we came."

It's true.  You are never so lost that you can not go back the way you came.  Everyone has a different interpretation of this but for's about immersing ourselves in wonder.   It's about our little family, the nature about us, cooking meatballs to the lull of Tom Waits and knowing (and I mean knowing) that we ultimately always find ourselves in one another.

then and now and now