Congratulations, Maine. After 1700 miles, you're the one that broke me.
I leave late from Portsmouth in the rain. The instant I cross the bridge into Maine my ipod stops working. It's forty degrees and I don't stop shivering once my clothes get wet. I stop at a small town shop where no one says a word to me or gives me a second mind. I stop later at a hair salon to use a blow dryer on my jacket. It doesn't work, but the hairdressers throw some of my clothes in a dryer. The dry clothes only last for a few minutes before the rain soaks through again and I'm in the same cold, water-logged position as before.
At dusk I have my third flat and fix it with the last remaining daylight. I see the first lighting of the trip. I didn't realize how much more prevalent it is in Florida. The lightning knocks out the power going through a small town. On an unlit highway with completely overcast sky, the only road I can see are the sections illuminated by headlights. A truck pulls up to a stop sign at the intersection of a back country road. I flash my lights and think he's seen me as I ride in front of him. I get out something along the lines of "Oh shi-" before his grill finds my ribs. Lying in the road I realize I'm not dead nor badly damaged and get up. The driver gets out and talks to me. His name is John and he wears a Patriots cap. He left work on account of the power outage. He's exceedingly nice, but I figure he's worried I'll sue him. My first hit of the trip happens on the last ride.
I pull over to take a break. My kickstand is loose from being hit and won't go up. I get frustrated and throw my entire load down. One of the kickstand legs lands on a toe. It's only by chance I don't break it. I continue, still cold and wet. Eventually, I stop feeling my fingers and wonder how cold it has to be for frostbite. I ride a little longer and stop at an Italian restaurant. I thaw my hands in the bathroom sink. Before I leave , I see snow flurries falling and melting in front of street lights. I ask the hostess how far it I am from Portland. She tells me around 16 miles. I say fuck it and call a cab to take me the rest of the way. The goal was Maine, not Portland, and I don't need those last 16 miles. You can have them, Maine.
I get to my host Rond Talp's house and take a shower, seeing for the first time all the scratches and bruises of the day. Midway through the ride I wondered why people cried at the end of long trips. Yeah it's a long way, but why would you get that emotional about the end of it? Exhausted, sore, and beaten I sat in a chair and contemplated the benefits of crying or not. I decide not to, as I didn't figure it'd give me any great catharsis. I didn't invest enough emotion into this trip to find some great release at its end. Maybe I'm approaching the whole thing from the wrong perspective, but eh.
The next day, I run around in a panic until I find a bike shop to ship my bike back. I start breaking it down around back to avoid a disassembly fee. A couple starts using a the store wall for a photoshoot. Both in their thirties and bundled up, the woman gets topless and covers herself while the man writes things like "Impact Or Be Gone" on her in black ink. He wraps her chest in electrical tape and takes pictures with an old timey camera. I get to peep some boob between shots.
Once my bike is packed to go, I run around the city until nightfall. I find a small shack on the coast for lobster. I had used lobster as the excuse for going to Maine. My entire trip culminated in the meat between its steaming, red carapace. On this trip I've had my first experiences with non-shrimp crustaceans and they've been the most gruesome, visceral things I've ever done. You break the shit out of them. I don't want to miss any opportunity with my lobster and eat the tomally and eyes.
I get back to Rond's and we talk about his travels around Europe and discuss shoplifting techniques. He tells me about his friend who injured his eye and had it removed because he was partying rather than taking care of it. I've had a corneal ulcer and that shit sucks. I can't fathom being cool with losing an eye. Now he drops his glass eye into people's beers to get free drinks. Other than his crazy friend, Rond is a neat dude and gives me a hit of acid to take back with me. I leave the next morning at five.
The question of a meaning to life is stupid. It presumes there's a meaning to anything. If the universe is deistically derived with some ultimate plan of God's will, then maybe. But seriously? Pfft. A belief in random, aimless interactions may not seem the cheeriest perspective, but avoids the difficulties of attributing them to a grand beneficent ruler who shows caring through roundabout, backwards ways. Assuming an atheistic universe, there is no inherent "meaning" to anything, save for future interactions between things slated to happen (if you're into that kind of thing).
Something doesn't need to have meaning to have value. Unless your value judgments are based wholly on the original intention behind some thing, value doesn't require meaning. Value isn't confined to the same strict standards as meaning. Meaning requires intention or purpose. Value is appreciation for its own sake. Only babies argue that any value not predicated on meaning is worthless.
Maine Kill Count
Small Bird: 1