“I know I’m going to do this, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not shit scared.” This is what I think to myself as I slowly, following the instructions online, dismantle my bike. “Ok… so I gotta remove the handlebars, the pedals, and what?! BOTH wheels? Ugh.” It’s about 11pm and my flight is leaving the next day around noon. The use of my arm is limited as I had fallen over on my bike about a week ago. I received a really nasty graze in the crook of my elbow. It feels tender, and I can’t straighten my arm. And so huffing and puffing, I try to wrench the pedals off. But they just don’t budge. Starting to feel discouraged, I tell myself again, “I know that I’m going to do this, but it doesn’t mean that I’m not shit scared.”
The truth is, I miss him. We officially broke up just about a week ago, though our relationship was in tatters long before that. But as hurtful and as annoying as he was, I still relied on him for things. Things that from time to time I couldn’t, or didn’t, do. Like taking the pedals off my bike when I didn’t have the strength to wrench them off. But alas, life changes, and he’s not a part of my life anymore. I think of the agreement I’ve made with my best friend, when we were talking about how I wanted to become more self-reliant: “Try something eight times. If that doesn’t work, go online and look up instructions. Then try it eight more times. After that, you’re allowed to ask for help”. I put my head down and return to the task.
I can’t deny though, as focussed as I am on what I need to do, that my heart is hurting. Whilst initially I felt pretty empowered after the breakup – I chose to leave a shitty and unsupportive situation – now the grief was kicking in. And I hate grief. “This person is not the man that I thought I knew. The man I loved was someone i imagined him to be. And he probably didn’t really love me for me either.” Perhaps he just needed someone to control. And perhaps I was looking to be controlled. It was a perfect storm. I was looking for external guidance, he was looking to guide. But not any more. It finally hurt enough. I’m finally ready to live my life for me. And so my attention goes back to the bike.
Fast forward four hours. It’s 3am. With the moral support of my housemates and a quick midnight drive into the city to go visit a friend who is stronger than me and who helps me with my pedals and handlebars, my bike is finally in pieces and packed away into two Kona bike boxes. “These boxes look so cool”, I think to myself. Pictured is a grinning skeleton riding a pushbike really fast. This is me, I tell myself. Not the skeleton, but the riding. I am actually doing this. There’s no turning back. Still wired from the whole ordeal, adrenaline and anxiety surging through my body, I tell myself that I’ve done enough for tonight. I hit the sack.
Cue about another five hours later, and I’m awake. This is it. Today’s the day. After a last minute stop off at a bike shop to buy a helmet – mine is sitting forgotten in a cupboard somewhere – I’m off. My long lost friend is by my side: the last time we were really properly hanging out she was still living in Melbourne. That was about three years ago. I’m excited to finally catch up with her. The first leg of our trip is a road trip around the island of Oahu. Then she goes away and I go on to Hilo, which is on the Big Island. And then it all begins.
But for now I’m sitting in a plane heading to Brisbane, and then onto Honolulu. Next to me are some very old South East Asian people who are crinkling their wrappers as they eat muffins. My friend is several seats away; I see her reading a book. I’m writing, and music is pumping into my ears. This song reminds me of him. I’m coming to accept though that a lot of things may begin to do that in my near future. And that that’s ok.
I reflect on the last time I was in Hawaii. It was about 3 years ago, and I stayed on another island then. Kauai, the rainy island. I remember arriving alone, and I was 24. I remember putting my bags down in the treehouse that I had so eagerly booked. And I remember feeling so overwhelmed by it all that I just started crying. Everything was too new then, and too fresh. I was just coming out of a breakup too. Someone told me that Hawaii is the heart chakra of the world, and even though I don’t believe in that, I do feel my heart opening when I am there. Back then, I was tender, just like the crook of my elbow.
This time around, I notice the differences. I notice how I’m older, both in body but also in mind and heart. I notice how I’m more resilient now, and more insightful, more in touch with me and my needs. I acknowledge all the challenges that lie behind me, and I also acknowledge how I am now more able to meet the challenges and experiences that wait to inevitably greet me. I am stronger, older, wiser, and I am more ready. I am more me. Let the adventure begin.