Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Towns are like secret trails

I think not liking the town you're living in means you're a loser. And for a good while I've been a loser. Of course there's a big difference between Austin and Alice, between Huntington Beach and Hemet, but everywhere has something really great to offer. Not appreciating that something, not seeking it out, is really obvious to the locals. That snotty vibe is like an airport t-shirt or high socks with khaki shorts (no offense grandpa--I totally dig your style). It stands out right away. With that sort of 'tude you're stuck with flyers from the hotel lobby.

In the Navy we called it "USS Last Ship," as in "On USS Last Ship we did it this way and it was great." No one wants to hear why everywhere else is so much better than here. I wish I hadn't spent the better part of my time in Corpus with that attitude. I missed a lot.

When you ride, if you're cool, if you're sincere and humble and you know how to work, the other riders will bring you in. They'll show you secret trails, they'll invite you to private training sessions. They'll let you borrow their supersweet mountain bike for a month and invite you on their holiday. The loudmouths and rich kids get left in another town, they get dropped in the wind and have to find their way home alone.

In Norfolk and Corpus I was the kid who got dropped in the wind. They saw me coming a mile away and showed me straight to the novelty themed Best Western. It wasn't until just before we left both that I learned to shut my mouth and appreciate these cities as other peoples' homes, as interesting and storied and exciting places, as better than I could do, as a place where I could learn a lot, as a place where I appreciate being welcome.