Bicycles and cowboy boots

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It’s a pretty good bet that when I’m 99 I’ll still love my bike, especially if I get to pedal it around at the beach.

The last cowboy boots I owned were a gift for my 30th birthday. They were one of those things I’d wanted for a long time, and so when I finally had them I loved them. I wore them everywhere, to work, to parties, dancing, even horseback riding (the two or three times that happened), until I wore right through the soles.

Finally I gave up on those boots and replaced them with a pair of more conventional, professional-looking ones. Square toed, slightly heeled, relatively comfortable. Until my feet decided that heels are no longer something they wanted to wear, and the shoes were no longer so comfortable.

What a great excuse to go back to cowboy boots! No sooner did I think about it than voila! they appeared, an unexpected gift (thank you, Emily!!).

This is the magic of your own true self.

Cowboy boots. Surfing. Biking, dancing, baking bread. Writing. Singing.

If you stripped away all the layers and details of my life, the job titles and paychecks, the house and car, the places and even the people, these core elements are what you would have left. This is who I am.

Is it this way for everyone? The child becomes the adult, but the favorite color is still blue, the nose is still in a book, the baseball game will always thrill?

From first grade, when I decorated my bike with baseball cards that clacked through the spokes, through my teens, pedaling along the beach road in my bathing suit; from the North Carolina mountain roads I muscled up and down to get to college class, to the bike trip through England and the Netherlands in my early 20s and on to my rides around Takoma Park today, I have always had a bike. Nevermind that it sometimes sits idle for a few weeks. When I climb back on board, it feels like climbing back into my own skin.

Ditto with dance class. Out for nearly a year with a shoulder injury, I recently returned to the studio. It was such a gift to move again. It felt like coming home.

Once when I was a young mama I visited an old friend back home: as a high school kid I’d babysat her little ones, and helped host her holiday party. It was great to see her, still bubbly and fun and smart. She said I hadn’t changed. “You still wear dangly earrings,” she said. As if I would grow out of such a thing.

Maybe riding my bike and wearing cowboy boots and dangly earrings, surfing every summer and going to dance class makes me feel like my younger self. But mostly these things make me feel like myself.

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