I woke up today, early, almost still dark, rainy and nearly 2 weeks after the passing of one of my best friends…
I made some coffee, and found myself alone in my kitchen, with a tear rolling down my cheek. I guess a lot has been on my mind.
It was about this time of the year, maybe a little closer to summer in upstate New York, that 3 boys made an unspoken pact, bonded by a bicycle chain. We were 14 years old, and using a chain breaker, we wrapped a bike chain around each others wrists. With a pop of a rivet through a link, they were there permanently. Those chains went through everything we did. Minus a stint in lock up, and maybe a hospital visit or two, we wore these chains, all of our lives.
That was over 20 years ago. In that Time, Gilly’s wore so thin, it broke off on a weak link while moving something heavy. Mike got sick, and started chemo, and his now sits in a collection somewhere of his belongings… As of right now, although nearly worn through, I am still wearing mine.
Our journey might not be the most profound or epic, but it was together, and we shared it with everyone. It started with that symbolic agreement as teenagers, learning the empowerment of a bicycle, and how it could transport us anywhere we wanted, and was capable of being a vehicle for infinite forms of expression.
One memory that stands out today was a jumping contest, sort of a jam, in Ft. Wayne Indiana, it was about 94. At one point we were all to hit the berm jump, and at the time, for me it was bigger than I was comfortable doing tricks on. You pedaled about a hundred yards, at full speed around a corner, pumped a tiny dip before the lip, and went for it. I could clear it, but you had to juice it to get rad. Gilly did a turndown, he was good at that, someone else went, and it was my turn. Mike Tag put his hand on my shoulder, and in a convincing, subtly aggressive tone, said ” You got this, do it for FBM!”. He slapped my shoulder, I pedaled my hardest, and did a 1 footed table top. Mike followed suit, and did something ridiculous, probably a no footed half barspin. We all did our thing, it was a great day. I am not sure I realized it, but when he said FBM, he meant us.
About a month ago, I felt that same pat on my shoulder. I had been visiting Mike, with the looming and morbid reality that one of these visits would be our last time together. Without the burden of words I let him know that I loved him, was proud of him, and that I would see him soon. We said good bye.
For some reason, he’d taken to calling me sir in recent times, and in the same wisdom beyond my own, like years earlier, he said a lot -almost without speaking.
As he patted my shoulder, he said ” I’ll see you soon sir”
That was it…
Today I took the chain off, and replaced it with somethings else…
- Steve Crandall