So I bought a bicycle in the fall and I resolved to pedal it to the other coast  

For now though… this intro.  I need to tape my knees and get the bike packed. 

Ramble Day 13. Miles cycled: 104

Welcome to Lemuel’s Ramble. I’m going to approach this in an untraditional way.

I have ADHD. I’d debated what aspect of myself to lead with, because there are other things about me that are important for me to convey.  But ADHD kept jumping to the forefront. 

Until fairly recently, I’d looked at my ADHD as just that: an aspect.  Something I deal with, but try to work around. But I’ve come to understand that, in discounting it that way, I’ve done myself a disservice.

ADHD is a fundamental difference in the structure of my thinking. It is most disruptive when I’m trying to work within frameworks that were developed by neurotypical people for neurotypical thought structures.

My creative mind doesn’t work linearly. When I create, it looks more like a jigsaw puzzle in progress. The frame is generally formed first, perhaps with little clusters of like thoughts/pieces merged together during that process. Then, ideas/pieces get built out as associations between them are discovered in multiple clusters that eventually merge with other clusters, and ultimately form a cohesive whole.

It’s often difficult to see the end result with a jigsaw if you don’t use the box top as your guide.  The way my mind works is like that too.  As when doing a jigsaw, I only have a rough idea of what the result will be.  With a jigsaw, I look at the box top before starting, and then don’t look at it again.  In creating, I have an image in my mind of how something will look when it’s finished, but the details are blurry and jumbled.

I’ve put off serious writing for many years because I always saw the process as yet another obstacle to conquer.  A way of doing things that I was going to have to force myself to adopt, because that’s just the way it’s done.

That obstacle is so formidable to me, I finally came face to face with the reality that I might never be up to the challenge of it.

So, rather than work on yet another weakness, I’m going to play to a strength. The times when I’ve been most successful in life have been the times when I’ve done things in ways that made sense to me and made other people scratch their heads. I’ll make what I make here in a way that makes sense to me. 

I’ll write a bit on this, and a bit on that… as it comes to me.  Hopefully, the individual bits will be worth your time on their own, and even more hopefully, there will be some bigger payoff as a bigger picture forms from those pieces.

My Ramble

Another aspect of me, at the moment, is that I’m fat.  Unlike ADHD, being fat is not something that is part and parcel of who I am. It is a burden I’m carrying.  A burden I need to unload if I hope to survive into my 60s (I’m in my early 50s now).

So, I bought a bicycle in the fall, and I resolved to pedal it to the other coast.  After a series of delays and setbacks that I’ll detail another time, I dipped my rear tire into the Pacific on December 20th at Moss Landing, California, and have been traveling since then.  It’s been slow going for a variety of reasons, but I am making progress.  I’m departing Atascadero, California in a couple of hours, and hoping for an easy 20 mile pedal to Morro Bay, where I’m planning to break out the camping gear for the first time. 

At any rate, while I build whatever it is I’m building here, the Ramble will be a unifying theme.  My goal is to post regular updates on where I am both in time and space and mentally/emotionally/spiritually.  I also plan to post videos to a YouTube channel.

I don’t think I’ll ever be that person or believe in that world again

Around Thanksgiving, Michelle terminated our friendship.

As I was preparing for Departure on December 17th, I heard from her. Saying that nothing between us would change, she offered to visit my campsite for another goodbye. I asked her to confirm whether, by “nothing could change,” she meant that we would continue to not be friends, and to not have contact with each other. She confirmed. My reply:

If we are to continue not being friends, Michelle, then I’m going to pass on seeing you. I also miss your companionship greatly, so tonight would only be a reminder of the place I am no longer welcome.

I want you to know, Michelle, that I love you deeply. I always will. And, as I’ve said previously, things you’ve done or haven’t done don’t have any effect on that truth. It isn’t something about which I have a choice. It just is.

You made me promise things on many occasions related to never abandoning Stephen or you… or leaving you hung out to dry… or whatever way it was phrased on a given occasion. That, whatever became of us as a couple, you would always have my friendship.

Asking someone to promise those things comes with an implied commitment to the same on your behalf. I never fathomed that, having made my solemn commitments to you, you would one day walk away from the side of those commitments that were yours to honor. The pain of discovering that I was wrong is equal to or surpasses any pain I’ve experienced in my life.

A word about what I gave. Not to remind you… I beg you not to take it that way… but to give you some understanding of where my heart is. For many years, I failed to live up to so much of what ideals I set for myself. Getting sober and getting treatment for my ADHD offered me a chance to do better.

While it was easy to be so giving as your partner, it became less so as our relationship was strained. Continuing to honor the commitments I’d made, and continuing to give fully and selflessly to you… and to Stephen… I was realizing myself as the person I always envisioned myself to be. I was doing the thing I knew with complete certainty was right, and I was deserving of a place in what I always understood to be the “good world.” That good world, as I believed it to be and difficult as it often was… made sense to me.

Having found that place… a place where I seemed to belong and where good made sense… well, my belief in all of that was shattered when you severed our friendship. I’ll survive; I don’t think I’ll ever be that person or believe in that world again.

I believed so strongly that you make and honor commitments… that you are loyal to those you love… that, while the world around us might fall apart… that those to whom you give these things will stand by you in kind.

I was wrong, and I set off now as a man without conviction about much of anything. I have a vague notion that I might find something new to believe in… but just as much conviction that the cynics and mercenaries are the true inheritors of good things in this world. I don’t have any real hope of finding much good, except maybe a career writing about all of it.

I leave now more because I can’t bear to be here any more than because of anything I hope to discover trapsing around in the wilderness.

I hope you will change your mind about my friendship one day, Michelle. If you ever do, I won’t turn you away. I hope I’ll still be someone you would want as a friend at that point.

It’s a way to tell you that they love you in a way that you will always remember.

Merry Christmas Stephen.

I know that you value keepsakes. I do too. That’s something you and I have in common.

For me, keepsakes give me a connection to good memories. Something I can look at and touch now to help me remember and to feel what it was like to be in a place, or to be doing something I enjoyed… or most importantly, to remind me of people who are or were important to me.

Keepsakes have a special value when someone gives a keepsake of their own to someone else. When someone has a keepsake that is important to them, and they give it to you, it’s a way for them to connect to you in a very personal and lasting way.

It’s a way to tell you that they love you in a way that you will always remember.

Every time you see or touch that keepsake, it should be a reminder that the person who gave it to you loves you.

You have always shown a lot of interest in my fishing lures. We talked about them last summer, and I told you that they were one of my most important keepsakes. My grandfather gave me many of the lures. My dad gave me most of the others. They gave them to me when I was about your age.

It was a way for them connect to me by sharing their love of fishing with me through the lures. When I fished with these lures, a part of me always remembered that my dad and grandfather loved me.

I’m not a kid now, and I’ve only used the lures a couple of times in the last 20 years. I’m giving my lures to you now for two reasons.

Firstly, I know you will use them. These lures were meant to be used. It was always when I was fishing with them that I felt the connection to my dad and grandfather the most.

Sitting on a shelf in the closet now, I rarely even see them to remind me. But every time I see you fishing with them, or hear about you fishing with them, or see a photo or video of you fishing with them… it will remind me of the connection I shared with my dad and grandfather…

… and that I now share with you.

I also know that giving them to a special kid in my life, who will use them to become a better fisherman is exactly what my grandfather would have wanted… and I know it will make my dad happy as well.

Secondly, and more importantly, Stephen, I’m giving these to you because you are very important to me, and I want you to always know that I love you.

Whether I’m with you or I’m far away, and no matter how much time passes between talking to or seeing each other, I want you to always know and remember that. Let these lures, that are so important to me, be your reminder.  I hope you will keep them for a very long time.


What do you worry about?

What do you worry about?

Good question.

Safety. I’ll be alone. I have mace being delivered at some point today. I just received my Road ID bracelet that paramedics can use for contacts and to access medical information on me should I have a serious accident or other medical emergency and be unable to communicate. I’ll be keeping in close touch with a handful of people so that, if something happens, someone knows at least approximately where I was when I was last seen/heard from.

Failing. I’m very worried my knees aren’t going to be up to the task. I’ve worked my PT hard, and I believe I should be okay… but getting unexpectedly sidelined for 6 weeks has me gun-shy. My concern about my health is bordering on “terrified” these days. I don’t know that I’m necessarily terrified to die; I’m terrified to die alone… and without having lived up to my expectations for my life. The number on the scale yesterday was really frightening.

Loneliness. That’s a bigger fear than just this trip. In a lot of ways, I couldn’t be any lonelier than I feel these days… I’m actually hoping that the trip, the blog/social media stuff I’ll be doing, and time to reconnect with friends… I’m hoping that the trip actually helps on that front. But, it’s a fear I always have.

I need something that alters my course

I returned from Europe with a lot of personal momentum and motivation. My bike was packed and I had campground reservations arranged up the coast beginning on September 27th. Rascal’s injury happened a bit before that, and I was concerned about leaving Margaret to try to manage that… I was probably going to have to postpone.

When Margaret’s mom had her stroke on the 26th, it made the decision for me.

I was already dealing with something that was going on with my legs. It was fairly mild at the time, and I was hoping that rest would resolve it over Margaret’s trip. I now believe there were other factors (especially the way I was sitting in my office chair) that were more of an issue than the biking, as the problem was getting worse; not better.

Then, I actually injured the knee that was the less problematic of the two a couple days before Margaret got home. I actually had to have Michelle come down in the middle of the night when it happened, because I wasn’t sure I could get down and back up the stairs with Rascal.

Things are improving slowly, but steadily. I did two short bike rides last weekend. I let frustration drive me to push a little too hard on the second one, and I paid a little bit for it. Thankfully, it was only a bit of extra soreness for a couple of days.

I actually organized and packed everything again yesterday, and I’m ready to depart as soon as my legs are able.

Between Rascal’s injury, and then mine, I have spent most of the past 70 days or so in my room. It’s not mentally healthy. But, I’m having a hard time finding anywhere I can or am willing to go other than my house right now with Omicron already being here, and the unknowns surrounding that.

I’m taking the bike trip firstly because I’m very concerned about my health. So, the delay and the enforced physical stagnation is adding greatly to my overall anxiety. At this point, with other things going on in my life, it’s as much about my mental health as it is my physical.

I’ve spent a time over the past couple of weeks putting together an online identity with a blog and social media accounts. I’m writing about the trip, and my life now, and will continue to do so while I travel. I’m hoping that it comes to generate enough income to underly more ambitious projects in the future.

But, I’m extremely restless, and just want to leave as soon as I know my body isn’t going to break down before I get past the other side of town. I’ve targeted the 18th as the earliest, and will be extremely discouraged if I can’t get out of here by January 1.

I want nothing to do with Christmas this year. I’m feeling very empty, and it feels like Christmas would be more mockery than healing experience. I just don’t want to put a bunch of myself into something that’s almost certain to be disappointing (at best).

Aside from my legs, I’m well prepared for the trip. I have top notch equipment, I know where I’m going. Michelle’s brother was a good mentor, and I follow a lot of people who “bikepack” all over the world to get tips and guidance. I’ll be well connected with both my real world and new social media accounts, and will make sure people know where I am and when. I signed up for an emergency information service that includes an ID bracelet, and online information about all my medical stuff and contacts. So, in a very bad situation, as long as my bracelet doesn’t come flying off (it’s built not to), medical people will have access to the information and contacts they need.

It’s obviously not the best time of year to start something like this, but the obstacles that came are realities, which makes the awkward start date part of the challenge. I need to accomplish something big. I need something that alters my course. People my size don’t often make it very far past 60… and anyone who thinks my mental make up lends itself to slow, steady, incremental improvements that add up to 100 pounds doesn’t know me very well.

I picked you up every time you were broken

You’ve talked often about how your personal childhood trauma of abandonment has driven your worst instincts.

Ostracism is a very real and close cousin of abandonment. A childhood spent exiled to the periphery. That kid who walks alone out by the fence, and glances up carefully to see what the other kids are doing, but not long enough to be seen looking; terrified of the repercussions of being seen looking.

Years of therapy haven’t erased your abandonment issues. Years without therapy have certainly not erased my issues with being discarded. Thrown away. Cast aside. Unwanted. Unloved. Unacceptable.

I can never adequately convey what it’s like living inside a head with ADHD. What I can tell you is that the voice never shuts up. The thinking never stops. Every horrible thought is repeated over and over and over and over again, and I just want it to stop. All day. Every time I wake up at night.

There were a few times in school when someone pretended to want to be my friend. Those were the most painful. I would get sucked in. I’d believe in it. When the inevitable reveal, with its ridicule and derision, came… it was an abyss.

This feels like that (which isn’t to say anything about you or your intentions, but only about its effect on me). For two and a half years, I was told I belonged. I mattered. I was important. I was needed. I was loved.

And, this reveal is unfuckingbearable. I just want it all to stop, and my ADHD impulses push me to seemingly obvious answers…

anger… you’ve been wronged… lash out…

indifference… you don’t need her… show her… shut her out… see how SHE likes it…

stoicism… distraction… kindness…

But, it’s like solving Pi. My brain spins endlessly, and every decimal place is another empty hallway leading to more empty hallways, and none of them bring any peace; only more emptiness.

I’m going to come over and give you your pillow. I hope you’ll see me. Talk to me. Look me in the eyes. You asked the same of me many times, from similarly awful places. I don’t believe I ever said no, even though it meant driving long distances and deprioritizing myself. I’m almost positive I never said no.

Our relationship was broken. I thought our friendship was enduring. This shouldn’t be my trauma. I was a good friend. I was always there. I picked you up every time you were broken. This should be somebody else’s trauma. I’m in the wrong life. Someone else’s timeline. None of this is right.