Wednesday, September 25, 2013

American or Americant

Six years ago I had my first Americano.  I had never had anything besides coffee at this point and I didn't even know what an Americano was.  It's espresso with hot water.  Nothing fancy really.  In fact all my experience with coffee to that point was mostly milk and sugar with a splash of coffee used specifically to stay awake and not for taste.

I've ordered thousands of dollars worth of coffee and even worked for a short period of time as a barista at a gourmet coffee shop where I made "Latte Art". Since then coffee has become more than a utility for me and my expanse appreciation and knowledge of the process, taste, and international business for coffee is as serious as my love for cycling. And let's be honest, anyone who rides a bike without coffee is at a disadvantage.  Sorry tea-lovers or caffeine-haters.

This really isn't about coffee. But that Americano and the story behind it is all I can think about today. I ordered that drink specifically because it had America in the title. I'm not pointing that out to incorporate some sort of patriotism. I had been living in East Africa for six months and I was homesick and I was confused. I had gone to Uganda for one reason, bounced around several organizations trying to help in some way or another, and ended up in Kenya for some other reason and left with very little fulfillment in myself and the work I had done. I'm being very broad, but I can imagine anyone who has set off on a mission to "Save The World!" spends a lot of time feeling like they fell short. I knew what America was and I figured an Americano just had to be good. It needed to be good.

I had that Americano at a coffee stand searching for an internet hotspot in Nairobi's Westgate Mall to write home or search for jobs back home.  Something insignificant enough that I can't remember. This past Saturday that mall was terrorized resulting in at least 72 deaths and 200 injuries. This past Saturday I was racing cyclocross in Baltimore, MD. I'm reminded that I have unfinished business. I'm reminded of why I went to East Africa and not what I did. The why is more powerful and will hopefully get me back on track. 

I want to tell about an amazing story about my two-day adventure ride with JB, Dave, and Joe D from Harrisonburg, VA to a ski resort in West Virginia last week. I want to complain about the how I haven't been able to get an insurance company to underwrite my pre-existing conditions and give me insurance. And about how all the recent politics revolving around Obamacare impacts me. I'm hesitant to tell anyone recent considerations that deviate from dreams that I've outlined before in fear of letting anyone down. Yet, each time I try to write anything about any of that, I just delete it. Just one of those days you feel guilty talking about yourself. It's a weird feeling having stories to tell but not being able to tell them for whatever reason. Timing is everything and life is not fair. Make the most out of every ride and every adventure.

It is always worth it.

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