Exercising was never high on Kate's List of Fun. Of course, she liked doing active things like hiking, skiing, or going for walks. But exercising for the purpose of being fit? Important, sure. But definitely not fun. And now, with her back/hip pain, her desire to exercise seemed to have a kind of inverse relationship with its importance. After all, who wants to go hop on an exercise bike for forty minutes when they can barely put on their shorts without falling over? And yet, it seemed that however much she didn't want to, that was how much more important it was for her to just go do it. The stationary bike in particular seemed to be what was most helpful, allowing Kate to exert herself at a more constant rate and giving her the most control over which muscles she was using, which should help hold her spine and pelvis in the right place. (This, from a physical therapist online.) Kate hoped rather than believed this to be true. There were so many different and varied painful spots in her lower back and hips, she gave up trying to actually understand what was going on. But for the most part, the biking did at least help in some fashion...sometimes.
The rest of the sometimes, it didn't seem to do anything except make her feel exhausted and dehydrated. Some days, there was no rest from it--sitting hurt. Standing hurt. Lying down on either side hurt. (And lying down on her back made her feel hotter and claustrophobic...and like those pathetic beetles that can't flip themselves back over.) These days worried her, especially in the midst of a seemingly long string of them. But mercifully, they always ended, making what was only "sometimes" quite bearable in hindsight, while it had been rather unbearable as a present "always".
after the hail storm
Mister and Kate tried to take advantage of the better days to occasionally go out together. Unfortunately, their first date was crushed...rather literally, by golf-ball sized hail. They were in the car, under some tree cover, but the storm was so quick and ferocious that Kate worried about the windows breaking in. They still went out once the storm passed, but it was hardly a good time for a walk in the park.
One day, when she was feeling better and in an adventurous and daring mood, Kate suggested going for a real bike ride on a real bike. Kate enjoyed riding bikes, but she also was slightly terrified of going down steep hills--one of few fears that remained from a terrible childhood accident. But from what she had seen of the nearby Santa Fe Trail, it was nearly as wide and flat as a road. She was pretty sure that even in her unwieldy pregnant state, she could manage to stay on board even if she encountered a mild decline.
The day they went was perfect, sunny and breezy. Kate and Mister took off on the trail heading South toward the heart of Springs. They passed parks and crossed back and forth over a small river, generally riding in smiling silence. Once, Mister attempted a comment, which Kate asked him to repeat twice and still couldn't comprehend. When they finally stopped for a break at a park, she asked him again.
"Well," he said (repeating the comment from when they were passing a skate park), "I just said that it was your chance to bust out some moves..."
Kate looked at him. "Oh."
Clearly, bike rides were not the time to have deep and meaningful conversation...or actually, any conversation at all, except during brief stops. But that wasn't necessarily bad. In spite of not talking, there was still plenty of communion together and sharing in the vibrancy of life that still made for a very good date. And this was augmented by several minutes walking and biking around the University of Colorado campus in the Springs. Mister talked about his memories there, potential job prospects, and ideas for the future. It was fun to just sit and muse and dream together about the future. Maybe they would end up in Colorado...maybe somewhere else. But wherever they went, they would be together, which made the dreaming beautiful, extravagant, and sometimes quite silly--the best kind.
Beginning on their return from the campus, Mister led Kate back and forth through some neighborhoods. "The Metz family lives somewhere around here," he said, "It would be fun to stop in."
Kate didn't know very many of Paul's "people" from growing up, but she had met Mrs. Metz in particular several times and had always enjoyed her. And by this time, she was glad to stop in for a longer break before making the rest of the trek back. They rang the doorbell, Kate feeling her usual fluttery excitement that she always felt when unexpectedly dropping in on someone. Mrs. Metz was home and received them with gracious and hospitable delight. Once they were settled on the couch with a glass of water and an apple, Kate felt they could stay far longer than they ought. They told Mrs. Metz about their future prospects and jobs (more pragmatically this time), their church, and about Teddy. Mrs. Metz, in turn, talked about her son (just graduating from the Air Force Academy), his plans, and some of her own, now that he would be moving away from Colorado. It was easy and relaxed and familiar. Kate enjoyed it immensely, all the more because it was impromptu.
When they left, they rode back in silence. But in the car, they reflected together on their time.
"You know," Kate said, "even though we didn't talk much during the ride, it felt like a really nice and memorable time of shared experience."
"I think so too," Mister agreed. "In fact, I was thinking about activities in general that we could do together or that we could do with friends, that can be memorable like this and bonding without needing a lot of in-depth conversation."
Kate laughed, "I guess sometimes we can certainly over-emphasize the in-depth conversation! But hiking is definitely one of those activities...or almost anything outdoors. There's always something new and different and unique about it each time, even if you end up doing something you've done before!"
"Going for walks...playing sports..." Mister suggested.
"And group activities, like in the olden days when they had corn huskings and quilting bees."
Mister looked at Kate. "You're going to host a quilting bee?"
"Well, no, probably not." Kate looked a little sheepish. "But it would be memorable! ...and bonding."