I have been finding excuses to stay at Bill’s. Snowstorms, then unusually cold nights. One last trip to Taos for food, coffee, and eye candy. It finally takes something outside of the bike trip to draw me away. I’ve called a girl in Santa Fe that I once fell a little in love with when I lived here in 1996. I never really got to know her, but I’ve since barraged her with postcards, then emails. Her replies have been sparse, but I know that she lives with her boyfriend, says she’s gotten fat, and admits that she might have been a little in love with me too. The thought of her still gets my heart racing, but I try not to get my hopes up too much.
It’s a bright, cold morning. I push my bike up the icy drive. It’s been so long, I feel wobbly on it. I keep stopping to check things.
When I reach the Rio Grande I fall back in the old groove. I pass familiar turns, familiar sights. This is probably the only stretch of the whole trip that I’ve cycled before. Still, I gain new perspectives. I glimpse Truchas Peak from just above Velarde. I notice a picturesque old church in Alcalde. The turn to Chimayo, my old home, goes by in Espanola. I notice that there’s really only one significant hill between Espanola and Pojoaque.
I find myself climbing feverishly into Santa Fe. My legs feel flabby and weak, but I push them on. Soon I’m climbing into a little courtyard just north of the Santa Fe plaza. I knock, wait, knock again, and then I see her. My heart jumps. She looks great. I giver her more sweaty hugs than she wants. Her hair looks darker than I remember, getting long on top. Her close set eyes, big smile, and graceful manner are just as I remember. And she is not fat.
I’m beyond myself. She makes me coffee, and I spill it on her new computer. I babble like an idiot. She shows me around, shows me the ring Wes recently gave her. Of course, being jealous, I’ve never liked the idea of Wes. When he comes home he’s very relaxed and not at all threatening. He meets me, then goes about his business. I ask about a shower, and he encourages me. To increase my discomfort, I leave my “grody” cycling cap on Ann’s toothbrush. Oops.
I’m relieved when the three of us leave for dinner, which goes better. I sense no resistance or hostility from Wes. No overt friendliness either, but I start to soften towards him. He seems sincere, and fun.