Dark Dreams, a Bright Future

During the wee hours of Thursday, October 8th, 2015 I received a dream.

When I awoke later that morning to start my day, everything had changed.

How did I go to sleep thinking about band practice and how many classes per week of martial arts I needed to do in order to graduate and feel good about my skill level, and then wake up the next morning with my priorities completely shifted?

How is it that, now that I am established in Austin and thoroughly enjoying living here, I decide to walk away from it all overnight?

I will share the dream with you that I had, but let me give you a quick snapshot of my past for some backstory.

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Addison and I on our cross country bike trip

On January 16th, 2013, Addison (my fiance) and I arrived in Austin, TX on bicycles. We’d ridden all the way from Brattleboro, VT with musical instruments and our dog Zoso.

The emotional journey I embarked on in order to leave what I perceived to be my permanent home (Brattleboro), to ride my bicycle across the United States and move to a foreign country (Austin) was tumultuous. But it was something I had to do in order to be where I am now. Quite literally.

But during our cross-country bicycle trip, I had a feeling that I never wanted to stop. I wanted to keep going South until I reached Brasil, the mother-land of a martial arts I’ve practiced for over ten years (capoeira). I wanted to leave North America and learn Spanish and Portuguese and meet people who thought completely differently than I do and knew how to live in community in a way that many North Americans don’t understand anymore. I had been talking about visiting Brasil and going back to Mexico and Guatemala for years before my U.S. bicycle trip.

Somewhere in all of this, after living in Austin for a while and then going back to visit my beloved Vermont, I had a severe concussion. Throughout my healing process I dipped in and out of various levels of depression. Over the next two years, I would tell many people about how I was going to bike to Brasil once the time was right, come hell or high water.

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A picture of Radha after finishing hiking the Long Trail

My sister, who is traveling through Western Europe and on to Thailand by bicycle with her husband, Erik, has been encouraging me from the start, and even sent me some travel supplies for my trip to Brasil (this included a pair of underwear that claims to be wearable for six weeks without washing–something I will probably not attempt to confirm). She has also hiked the Long Trail by herself, which was something she’d always talked about doing since we were teenagers.

Whenever we would talk on the phone I would tell her that I was working on making more money so I could save money faster and eventually embark on my Brasil trip with Addison.

Yes, Addison had to come with me of course! We’re The Love Sprockets (that’s the name of our band) and that’s what we do! We adventure by day on bicycle and play music for our hosts at night. Plus, I can’t travel through Central and South America by myself! That just wouldn’t be safe!

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The Love Sprockets

Yes, that’s the name of our band: The Love Sprockets. We perform in Austin a few times a month with our drummer (Pete) and upright bass player (Watson).

That is… until Watson announced he was ‘goin’ to Mexico!’. It was always something Watson had threatened, but we didn’t pay it too much heed.

“F** this sh** guys,” he’d say, after taking a swig of the Thirsty Goat beer he brewed 60+ hours a week at Thirsty Planet brewery. “I’m goin’ to Mexico!”

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Me (left), Watson (center), Pete (right)

So now we’re scrambling to find a new bass player. But how do you replace Watson? He’s an ideal bass player in every way: hysterically apropos, high energy, fast talking, mustache-havin’ and a phenomenal musician. He’s also a cyclist.

Well, slap my ass and call me Sally.

Anyhow, let’s get back to my life altering dream, shall we?

So I was always telling people that I would go to Brasil ‘when the time is right’. But the time has not been right for Addison or I. We have our band, The Love Sprockets to play shows with and tour the country with. We have growing relationships with clients who want to pay us to do things that we’re really good at. I have my capoeira school where I get to train as often as I want and actually get good at this martial arts I’ve always loved.

On Wednesday October 7th, 2015, I went to sleep feeling completely satisfied and excited about my life in Austin.

Sometime in the early morning hours of October 8th I had this dream:

In my dream I was with my dad, my brother and sister. All of the people around us were getting randomly inflicted with a plague of some kind. They would see a black powder appear on their skin, and at that point it was too late–the black powder was a sign that the mysterious disease had already begun to set into their muscles and turn them grey and brittle. Soon after they would die a painful death.

We were sad for all of these people, but also feeling a surreal surrender to the unfathomable workings of Death and its suddenness at times.

That was when I noticed the black powder on my own skin.

The four of us took in this new information. I was going to die, and soon.

I sighed, and said, “You know what guys, I’m not scared of dying. But I am scared of being in terrible pain while I die.”

They nodded in agreement.

After this, I went into the bathroom by myself and began to wipe the black powder off of my skin with a warm, soapy wash cloth.

As I cleaned myself, I thought about all of the things I had wanted to do with my life, and the people I would miss. A vision of the little girl I was supposed to have with my fiance, Addison, flashed through my mind. I could hear my brother talking in the other room and I knew, somewhere in my waking mind, that he lives in India and I wouldn’t see him before I died. I would miss my friends and family.

I was sad about all of these things, but resigned to my fate.

That was when I remembered that I had not biked to Brasil yet.

In my dream, I fell to the ground, howling in anguish at this realization. I cried and cried and cried. 

I wanted to get on my bicycle right then, and cycle until I dropped dead. But I could feel the crunchiness of my muscles and tendons and knew the disease had compromised my ability to pedal a bicycle.

Eventually I cried myself awake, much to Addison’s surprise, who was asleep in my bed next to me.

He tried to comfort me as best as he could when I told him about the dream. “You’re okay baby,” he told me. “You’re not going to die of the plague. Nothing bad is happening.”

I lay next to him silently as he fell back asleep.

And I knew something then, that I hadn’t fully realized before.

I’m not afraid of dying, I thought to myself. I’m afraid of not fully living.

I eventually drifted off to sleep, and when I awoke in the morning, I knew things could not stay the same any longer.

During what was supposed to be our meditation session, I unfolded my deepest thoughts and feelings before Addison, and for the first time, we were able to agree on this one truth:

It’s time for me to ride my bicycle to Brasil.

Not next year, not after I have enough money saved.

Now.

I’ve given myself a month and a half to prepare.

And I leave at the end of November, 2015.

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Me, on a 75 mile ride in Texas–note the thick, dark glasses necessary for my concussed vision

I hope you will join me on this journey through my blog and Patreon (I will set up Patreon over the next couple of weeks and let you know when it’s launched).

Thank you for reading this. 🙂

4 thoughts on “Dark Dreams, a Bright Future

  1. Lots of things to think about…one suggestion- fly to Brasil – do your capoeira studies, learn Portuguese/ Spanish and get grounded in Latin American ways of living and culture – then ride back ….you will be wildly better prepared. The dream is about fear of change and loss. IN AA they have a thing called “pulling a geographic” . Everytime it gets tough in one location/job/relationship/ you decide something else is the cure.. if you just moved, quit the job, left the relationship – you would be better, happier etc… Not saying this is you, but worth checking your thinking out – especially given the ‘has to happen right now’ impulse. Going it alone in Latin America is not the same as Europe or the USA at all. I have done it. And overall – it can be great… but knowledge of the culture of machismo…is real and critical.

  2. Look for sponsorships from women’s sports mags, take more time to prepare as in: strong command of the language, prep for parasites, map out check-in spots along the way, expect cell phone black outs. Latin America is a very different kettle of fish from USA and Europe. I traveled alone in Mexico and Nicaragua and Costa Rica -albeit 30 years ago…(YIKES!)

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