One of my academic conferences, the American Society for Environmental History, has been in town this week. As it's just across the river, I'm attending with Jasper in tow, stepping out of talks when he fusses and otherwise just standing in the back, bouncing the baby and enjoying the feeling of being an academic, rather than just a mommy, for a little while. And learning some cool stuff, too.
Yesterday, we rode the Yuba over. We left about Jasper's naptime and he was asleep after just a few minutes of fuss. There was no good place to park, so I left the bike on the sidewalk locked to a parking meter. It poured all day, and the rain cover on the kid seat was wholly unworthy of the task. Although I had pulled out the snuzzler insert to make sure Jaz had something dry to sit on for the way home, the cold seat, soaked harness straps, and drippy roof really set him off. To make it worse, my friend and colleague Daegan and I tried to join some folks at a bar at the end of the day, rather than going home. Jasper cried the whole mile to the bar, and when we got there, didn't settle. It was getting dark. My light had shorted out, and the bike we had loaned Daegan had had its lights 'borrowed' for a different bike the week before and not returned. We had to suck it up and go home.
The trip to the bar had been in the opposite direction from home, so we now had nearly three miles to go. It was rush hour. It was pouring. Jasper cried his most miserable, shrieking cry the whole way home, but there was nothing to do but go, as it was only getting darker.
We arrived home soaked to the skin. Frightened. Cold. And most of all, emotionally battered by Jasper's unadulterated misery.
After a change of clothes and a few minutes of nursing, Jasper was grinning at me again. But I'm still not recovered from the experience. And today, we took the bus.
It's supposed to stop raining Sunday. I think we'll take a nice long ride (it will be nearly 60F!) to remind ourselves why this is fun. Because yesterday, in the cold, wet, dark, lungs searing as I climbed the hills as fast as I could, eyes searching into the darkness for unseen hazards, imagination creating doom around each bend, I found myself wanting to never, ever do that again.
Sometimes, getting around by bike makes life harder.