This past weekend I did something with (and for) Steve that took me out of my comfort zone. This sounds stupid, but it was taking the tandem out for a ride. The bike had a wonky pedal for over a year and we finally got it fixed. It wasn’t that I was riding a bike, I can do that! But we were out in new territory, with fancy bike riding people, who had fancy bikes and bike clothes. I had yoga pants and tennis shoes, and I am certain, a bigger butt than four of them put together. The bike felt awkward. The backpack he generously stuffed with my camera, water, and extra tube was in my face. Honestly, I even had trouble figuring out how to get on the bike. Steve rides more than 100 miles a week right now, so you can imagine that his patience with me was welcome, if not a bit embarrassing.
The ride was lovely, he was kind to me, and I didn’t feel like a huge schmuck. It helped that afterwards we chased it down with a little Turkovich wine tasting. While we were sipping our wine, I may have said something like, “Damn you for making me go out of my comfort zone. I appreciate it, but it bugs me.” We talked a bit about why I was uncomfortable, and I am sure part of my annoyance was that nothing seems to ever make HIM uncomfortable. He’s one of those people who is good at everything and willing to try anything. He did admit that “stuff with people” makes him uncomfortable, but we coudn’t come up with specifics.
In the middle of the night, I remembered a recent activity and woke him to tell him about it. A few weeks ago, his uncle passed away after a short illness. We were at Lake Tahoe when we got the call, just returning from a spectacular lake visit, where the water was so still and calm it felt spiritual. I had some pictures and made cards for his four cousins, their mom, Steve’s dad and aunt (the remaining brother and sister). I asked Steve to write individual personal notes to all of them. And that was hard for him. He spent the afternoon and evening working on the seven notes, and was happy he did it, but it was out of his comfort zone. He told me he was annoyed because that kind of stuff was in my DNA, but it was a challenge for him. Which is weird to me, because Steve is absolutely thoughtful, generous and kind. How could that be hard? For me, writing about feelings is, well, it’s what I do. But those notes were as tricky for him as riding the tandem was for me.
His 2:00 a.m. response to my discovery was, “Thank you for noticing that and appreciating it.” Then he rolled over and went back to sleep.
This morning I found this quote on Tumblr: Be kind. Be loving. Go out of your way.
That’s what it is, isn’t it? Go out of your regular, comfortable, easy, this-is-what-I-do-with-my-eyes-closed-way. It could easily have been GET out of your way. Or get out of your OWN way. Go out, get out, get going. Just do something different. Don’t be afraid to be awkward. Don’t shy away from the hard. Being a schmuck isn’t as bad as not being brave. Get on the damn bike, write the darn love note.
Someone will notice and appreciate it. And if they don’t, you will notice and appreciate. And then you will buy some fancy bike shorts, so you’ll be ready for next time.