I wanted to make sure there would be enough time for me to park. My son,
Savi, and I were going to participate for the first time in the L.A.
Marathon Acura Bike Tour. As we were heading west on Hollywood Boulevard, we
began to see some bicyclists peddling their way to the starting line.
Hurriedly, I found parking right on Hollywood Boulevard at a
cyclist-friendly $10. We unloaded the bikes and made them ready for the
ride, a short time later we were but another pair of cyclists peddling
towards the front of the Chinese Theatre.
We arrived about 4:30 in the morning, and even then there were thousands
of people already waiting. My son and I stood in the center of the
intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Orange, the street immediately west
of the theatre, not far from the starting line. The street lamps were weak
against the growing throng, as the light seemed to be absorbed by the people
and never touched the ground. The sun would still be dormant for another
hour or so. You could not help but to look around. The steady drone of
background conversations steadily increasing, you saw police, guardsmen,
officials, and people. Later I would find out there were around 11,000
people there that morning.
I saw people concentrating on their task ahead. Others were in raucous
conversation with friends, while some did last minute checks on their
bicycles. I saw crazy hats, tandem bikes, people dressed in sweats, some in
running clothes. I continued my 360-degree view and saw all manner of people
in all manner of dress. I was about to turn to my son and say something and
suddenly the thought vanished as surely as if it had never existed.
I saw her.
Time seemed to stop, or, at the very least, slow down. A surreal scene
began to appear before me. The sound of the crowd seemed to get muffled,
like the brightness of a spotlight seen through a thick fog. The crowd
darkened and became more deeply covered in shadows. The street lamp closest
to me ignored everyone around me and concentrated its soft light on her. She
stood there in her resplendent smile. She was holding her bicycle dressed in
sneakers, black cycling shorts, and a gray sweater. She wore a simple white
helmet, beneath which her auburn hair ended in a parallel line to the
ground, half way down her neck. She was smiling. A smile such as I have
never seen. It radiated a warmth, a spirituality, a peacefulness in a way
that was totally and absolutely calming, and it drew me in. It took a while
for me to get the courage to speak to her. It was 4:45 in the morning,
Sunday, March 3rd, 1996.
The wind hit my face as I peddled towards the start line of the LA Bike
Tour. I was ecstatic. If I couldn’t run it, then this was the next best
thing. My injured ankle still bothered me, but nothing could take away from
the satisfaction of being there…in the moment.
I reached a group of cyclists who were clustering yet leaving gaps where
I could easily maneuver to weave through the river of helmets I saw before
me. Finally, I stopped. Not knowing what to expect, I stood there looking
around, stretching, and trying to keep warm. For a moment I felt almost
intimidated by all the cyclists around me who had fancy bikes and special
clothing on or basically just looked like they knew what they were doing.
Nevertheless, I was happy to be there, partaking in the energy of the
day. Directly in front of me was a teenager with headphones on who talked to
a man next to him. I briefly looked at both of them and registered the
older man with a goatee to be a relative…father, uncle, friend… rather mean
and evil looking by the way. However, not even his stare could take away
from this spiritual connection I was feeling.
I never saw him approach me but sometime later this same man, the
evil-looking one with gadgets on his handlebars, asked me something about my
bike. Hmmm? We talked a little, laughed a little -- he also kept an eye on
my bike when I went into the Roosevelt Hotel to go “p”owder my nose (thank
you for sharing) -- and then the next thing I knew the bike tour started.
We all rode down Hollywood Blvd. that morning with the wind in our faces.
Unforeseen forces, like my drippy nose, made me wipe my face continuously
on the sleeves of my sweatshirt (thank you for sharing), yet I was carefree
and having a blast. Oh, what a sight I must have been that morning. Hmmm?
Wait a minute. Where’s the evil-looking man with the goatee? Hmmm. Hmmmm!
He’s still here next to me…he never left.