So today I went for a rather long and hot bike ride. As I turned off the pavement onto my dirt road for the final 20 minutes of climbing and sweating and heat my eye caught an old school A&W Root Beer can. The heat, dust, and my own very strong desire for something cold and wet at that very moment triggered the memory of Summers working on the farm when my cousin and I would drink a flat of cheap grocery store-brand soda a day between us. Grandma and Orville (her husband who, for all intents and purposes was the closest I had for a Grandfather) would buy flats of 24 of all the flavors they could find and those were the most syrupy sweet oddball things you could think of. But we didn't care since they were cold and sweet and had just the right mixes of sugar and caffeine to keep us working in the Colorado sun all day doing whatever.
If we were working around the house servicing vehicles, buildings, fences or animals we'd find any excuse to go "up to the house" and, as unspoken teenage bonds work, we'd come back out with a soda for each other. We thought we were so clever. My Uncle, ever the hardass, never gave it much attention (unless he he happened to need us right at the moment we were up in the house slacking off) but sweet old Orville knew. Every once in awhile he'd just sort of randomly show up at the side of a field and patiently wait while I lumbered across in a tractor towards his truck. As I'd get nearer, he'd wave an arm up in the air and I knew that meant to stop. I'd jump down and hustle over and he'd let me know he was just over here checking cows and he had a cold Cherry Pop Pineapple Zingo, "If ya wan' it." I've always felt that being married to sweet old giant of a man was the best way for my Grandma to live the last years of her life.
And then this triggered the 1984 Olympics. I was in Colorado that summer and very very clearly remember being "up to the house" and catching my Grandma in the kitchen (probably sewing a huge hole back together in someone's overalls or jeans or working herself into a sweat working out a gigantic grease stain in somebody's junk work clothes or putting enough food together to try to feed a large man and two bottomless-pit teenage boy stomachs...) with the TV on in the background. At first I lingered since the house was cool and my uncle's eye was afar but then I became very fascinated watching a focus piece about Davis Phinney. And the thing that just clicked with me was a longish shot of Davis riding his bike through the Colorado Mountains with these huge expanses of views below him and that Colorado sky above. The romance of it clicked with me and I thought, "Yeah. That looks like a good day."
It took six years for me to finally act on that thought. But I was right.