>I am a wimp.
Saying this always gets interesting responses from my friends. I say it out of a mix of self-deprecating humor and honesty. I -am- a wimp. I apply this terminology to different situations.
“I’m a spice wimp.”
“It’s cold and I’m a wimp.”
“I bike -super- slow right now because the roads are icy and I’m a wimp.”
There are innumerable situations in my life during which I look around myself and can only mumble out what feels like an obvious truth: I am a wimp.
This is, of course, not true. Not entirely. I am a wimp in comparison to my friends. At university my friends, my beautiful friends, with their ability to eat foods spiced for Indians, would devour food that merely tasting caused tears to well up in my eyes. They would move quickly across the ground in the winter, making their way across ice. In Korea, my friends could drink more than I could, ate things I couldn’t bring myself to try. They could -stand- longer than I could. Since moving here, everything about my friends feels so much more than me. I slowly skid, nervously, over the hard packed snow, dodging patches of ice and walking my bike while my friends fearlessly pedal forward. BT recently asked me if I wanted to go hiking sometime, something I would love to do, but BT is -so- hardcore. He hikes up mountains in winter. He biked up Mount Washington. I concede that while I would like to, I can’t exactly keep up. When I walk across the ice and one of my feet slip, when I almost fall but stop, when my bike shakes and skids my body goes cold and then a rush of warmth starts somewhere in my stomach and uncomfortably spreads across me making me cringe and shake.
As a child, I fell a lot in traumatic ways. This instilled a fear in me that ruled my life, that dictated how I acted reaching down from my root desires to seemingly inconsequential details. I would cry as my parents tried to get me to ride a roller coaster. I cried at the mere prospect of going skiing. Hiking off a clearly defined train made me grab for someone’s hand. When I would wake up in the middle of the night, if it was really dark, I would scream. Over the years, my fear, how wimpy I am, has transitioned from affecting every aspect of my life to mostly managing the large decisions and overall driving forces. I ride, and enjoy, roller coasters now. I still creep along ice, gritting my teeth and hoping I don’t fall.
Whenever I bike with my friends, I feel like a wimp. MH and MM biked across Long Island into NYC in one day. I’ve met a bunch of people who did the Seattle to Portland ride (two-hundred miles) in a day. My friends climb hills and zoo ahead. They lean down into their drop handles and let themselves fall.
I lightly press my breaks, controlling my fall.
Biking home the other night, I climbed Spring Hill. The roads were clear enough, and it was late so the road was empty. But I was climbing. My front gears are stuck in their hardest position, so I knocked the back gear as low as I could without rubbing the chain against the derailleur. Pushing, slowly, wavering my way up the hill. It wasn’t as hard as it was the first time I ever tried to go up Spring Hill, but it wasn’t the easiest. My muscles ran out of oxygen and lactic acid built up as, struggling for energy, as aerobic processes became anaerobic. My lungs burned from the cold air that didn’t seem to do anything. At the top, I crawled over the last ridge where I turn off the main street onto my street.
After I carried my bike up the stairs, I got ready for bed. Looking in the mirror, I though “this is what a wimp looks like.”