When’s the last time you experienced real, pure, unadulterated joy? Prior to this past Monday night, I’d have been hard-pressed to answer that question. But something happened to me that night, and it was spectacular. Better than anything I’d experienced in a long, long time.
Let me start at the beginning.
About six weeks ago, we were taking the dog for a walk when one of the neighborhood kids zoomed past us on his Green Machine. It was like, WTF?!?! I didn’t even know they still made those things! He was having so much fun and, in that brief moment, I was so freaking jealous.
You see, my brother had a Green Machine when we were growing up. It was so awesome — sleek, stealthy, and neon lime green with black accents. It was like a Batmobile, but a super cool futuristic Batmobile, and not like the Adam West Batmobile, which was all we knew of at the time (this was long before the days of Michael Keaton or Christian Bale). My brother’s two friends had Big Wheels. They were also cool, but they were far more utilitarian in their appearance. These boys would ride their wheeled machines up and down our long driveway all day, every day, all summer long. They never got bored because they were kids and they were having fun. I never got to experience that because I was a girl. To be fair, I would guess that this was all going down in around 1982, and I’d have been in my first year of high school, so riding around on a Green Machine wouldn’t have been considered cool. At all. But still … there was always a part of me that was really envious of my brother and that super sweet ride of his.
So when I saw this kid zipping around on one, all I wanted to do was kick him off of it and ride off into the sunset. Mine! I wanted it to be mine!
Fast forward to a couple of days ago. We were taking the dog for a walk again when we noticed that our neighbors across the street were moving out, leaving behind a ginormous pile of garbage in their front yard. And in that pile of garbage was … yeah, you guessed it — the Green Machine! What in the world?!? Who throws away a perfectly good Green Machine?!? I could not allow this to stand. I had to right this wrong.
So, I waited until it was really dark and I was absolutely certain no one was around to see what I was about to do, and I crept over there … and — bam! I stole that Green Machine from the pile of garbage that had been its prison and stashed it in our garage! In hindsight, it makes sense that they weren’t taking it with them or that no one had bothered to grab it for themselves. We realized the next morning when we were able to look at it up close and in the light of day that the two rear wheels were all busted up. But I didn’t care. I had a Green Machine!
The magic happened on Monday night — the eve of the 4th of July. We had just watched a couple of TV show episodes (insert brief promo break here: if you are not watching “Wrecked” on TBS, do yourself a favor and check it out. That is seriously one funny show!), and we were trying to decide what we wanted to do next. D00d asked if I wanted to ride my new toy. Did I? Absolutely!
Let me paint you a picture: it was 10:00 p.m. and it was pitch black outside. The neighborhood was dead because, I assume, everyone was off someplace watching a fireworks display. We went outside to find a light mist coming down. Lightning was mixing with the flower-like trails of light off in the distance. Rumbles of soft thunder accompanied the repeated sonic booms. I didn’t care. I was going to make my dream come true. I handed my glass of wine to D00d and dragged Greenie out of the garage, climbing into the seat. It felt good. Natural. Like it had been made for me. And I started to pedal. But nothing happened.
It turns out that the busted wheels actually did make a difference and impacted my ability to enjoy the ride. At least, that was the case while I was still on the grass. Once I got it out into the street it was a slightly different story. It moved a little better, but it was still hard to control without a completely round set of wheels to propel me. It didn’t matter, though. I pedaled and spun and turned and pedaled some more. It wasn’t smooth and it wasn’t fast but I didn’t care because I was alive! Alive!!!
When I finished, I rolled Greenie back over to the pile of garbage and sat on the patio with a huge smile on my face. When I woke up the next day, I went online and ordered a brand new one — one without broken wheels — for myself. It will be here on Saturday. I don’t care if I only ride it a few times. Those moments of joy, of exhilaration, were priceless.
I saw an interview with Maria Menounos over the weekend. She talked about how she was taking a break from her TV-hosting gigs to take care of herself and her mother. She herself just had a golfball-sized brain tumor removed, and her mother was battling stage four brain cancer. Maria said that as women, we’re programmed to be caretakers, but we don’t take care of ourselves. I personally think that it’s because when we do make time to do something for ourselves, we’re viewed as being selfish. So we avoid making ourselves happy in order to avoid feeling guilty about being happy. She’s taking time to care for herself and for her mother. Good on her. I am sending both of them some positive vibes and will be keeping them in my thoughts.
As for the guilt we feel when we dare to do something for ourselves? Yeah, I’m flipping a big bird at that guilt. When I am on my deathbed (provided I am lucky enough to make it to a deathbed), I will hopefully be reflecting on what a great, love- and fun-filled life I was lucky enough to live. And I will remember the time spent reliving my childhood on that Green Machine.
Do something — even if it’s just one small thing — for yourself today. Do another one tomorrow. And the next day. You deserve it.