In the midst of trying to figure out how to make something interesting out of the #longestoffseasonever, I’ve taken a trip to Memphis to visit my parents. Now I’m sitting around the cabin drinking a Delerium Tremens (thanks, Aunt Leslie), and trying to figure out how to put all of my last week feelings out through the keyboard. I don’t want this post to sound totally negative, but the last week has brought up a lot of emotions, and this is my way of hashing through it all.
This is the first time I’ve come back to Memphis since I moved to Salida, and the second since I moved to Colorado back in March of 2015. I don’t really feel like Memphis is “home” anymore… on several levels. Sure, my parents are there. Also, John, the dude who coached me into my MMA adventures is there, and even though I’ve got some more experience from ATOS Denver, he still whoops my ass pretty hard. Other than that, I don’t really have a draw to it. When I let social media know I was visiting, the only contact I got was a dude I sort of knew from working at Outdoors letting me know he’d like to meet for a drink (ew). Not that I’m basing all of the upcoming text on a single post on social media… that was just a little kindling to the fire I’ve felt about Memphis ever since the last bit of time before I moved.
Riding trails there was less fun than I remember. All of the old issues I used to fight when I lived there are still there- go-arounds to anything barely difficult, and all of the “usual” muddy spots and low spots are 10 feet wide and/or extremely rutted. The difference now is that I can just roll my eyes and be glad that it’s no longer my problem rather than be subjected to what could verge on bullying because I have the gall to tell someone that they’re doing it wrong when they ride a partially wet trail or build a (really, really terrible) new trail, in a protected natural area, when there are a shit-ton of trail drainage/erosion problems just a half mile away from where they’re spending the time to build a (really, really terrible) new trail that’s 100% bandit/illegal (but un-enforced, because “Memphis”)
I have my parents in Memphis. I have a really friendly place where I can play Jiu Jitsu/MMA any time I visit. I have very few people I can call friends in Memphis (you all are probably reading this, and know who you are). I had people I’d hang out with by proxy to my previous relationship. I don’t think many of them would have anything to do with me now.
I wasn’t just friendships, either. I spent most of my cycling life looking for a sliver of recognition that I was doing pretty damn well at bikes. Even though I was arguably the most successful cyclist in The City (road, mountain, and cyclocross), no one really gave a fuck.
Maybe it was because my successes were under the veil of being female (once the Commercial Appeal printed a story congratulating the second male cyclist in town on getting a cat 1 upgrade as being the ‘2nd Cat 1 cyclist in the city’ after the first dude. Problem was, I’d already had a Cat 1 designation for at least a year, which technically made him the 3rd Cat 1 in town). People just shrugged when corrected on this.
Maybe it played on others’ insecurities that, once I felt like a big fish in a small pond, I went straight out to the damn ocean.
Maybe I just wasn’t “womanly” enough for anyone to even want to notice the shit I was doing. I’ll never forget when I heard about a local dude who referred to me as “Mandrea” and said that I didn’t count as part of the female population of cyclists in town. I guess my hair was too short, I was too outspoken, too confident, too intimidating, too… whatever.
Forget the fish… I was a large black sheep in a small pasture.
I’m genuinely happy in Colorado and in Salida, especially.
During the Vapor Trail 125 race, Aid Station 1 was basically a collection of all of the amazing people I’ve met since I’ve moved here. I rolled in feeling somewhat burnt out, and left there feeling like I could destroy anything the race course could possibly present to me. They literally turned my race around with their support. I feel appreciated, included, and like I might actually have a friend or two.
It’s hard to have a relationship with a city for 30something years of your life and then figure out, “You know what? You’re dead to me.” I’m OK with that- It’s like removing a toxic person from your life, but on the scale of an entire city. I’ve found a really good place where I feel like I’ve integrated into the community, and where I’m genuinely enjoying life. Nowhere is all the way perfect, but here, I’m not utilizing any of my mental energy to convince myself that I’m happy. I sort of knew it before I visited, and the visit just solidified my feelings of “home” for my mountain town.
Edit to add: Here’s my theme song for watching Memphis disappear in my rearview mirror…