When you pack up your lives for a month and go anywhere, it’s a chore – even if you are escaping to somewhere warm and sunny from somewhere cold and wet and muddy and snowy and brown and…well, you get the picture.
There are so many things to arrange and finish and temporarily stop and fix before you leave. It can be quite stressful in the days and weeks leading up to departure.
And inevitably, much as you try, there are things forgotten.
One of the main reasons/rationalizations for me driving to California was the bikes. That and the car rental. We wanted to ride while we were here and renting bikes AND a car while we had perfectly good ones at home made no sense. So we packed our bikes – and the trail-a-bike that attaches so the kids could ride too – into the van and I drove.
There was lots to remember for bike riding. There were the helmets, my bike shoes that connect to the pedals and without which I wouldn’t be doing too much riding. There were the bike pants and shirts. The tools, in case of a problem. The speedometer. All was going pretty well until I went to connect the my bike to the trail-a-bike and noticed I was missing that little pin thing-a-ma-jig that holds the two pieces of steel together.
Aside from being more than a little annoyed at the predicament I found myself in, it was also an opportunity to reflect on my inadequacy as a writer, of all things. You see, writers are writers because they are good at naming things – they care about what things are called and they draw on this knowledge in order to write descriptive and engaging prose. I don’t know the names for many things compared to, say Jonathan Franzen, whose novel The Corrections I have started reading (and enjoying thoroughly). Much as I sometimes pretend to be a writer, in reality I am just a guy who writes. And these are very different things. (See, there I am using “things” instead of a more descriptive authorly expression.)
Back to the thing-a-ma-jig for the bike. With all this remembering and potential forgetting, I realized that, worst-case scenario, I could just buy what I forgot (but I hate doing that, especially when I have a perfectly good item at home). So I headed to the Palm Springs Cyclery. There an earnest young bicycle dude headed to the back of the shop in search of one of these pin thingies only to return empty-handed, but for the suggestion that I head over to the nearby hardware store and buy a “hitch pin”. (So that’s what it’s called.)
Ten minutes and 70 cents later (plus California sales tax) I had a hitch pin that fit perfectly. Rushing back to the house, I announced triumphantly that I had found the missing piece for less than a dollar – which, truth be told, feels almost better than remembering the hitch pin in the first place.