Tomorrow afternoon I will be asked to administer either an enema or a tube feeding to one of the plastic mannikins in our skills lab, and that will be the last "hands on" test of the semester. Two weeks from today I will take my final written exam, dust myself off, and leave the first semester of nursing school behind me.
Tonight after class I drove to an unfamiliar corner of Anchorage to look at a "snow bike" a man named Doug had posted for sale on craigslist. I've been riding my bike indoors on a "trainer" since the first snow fell, but that doesn't quite cut it for me. I'm like a dog riding in a car with the window rolled down. I want that wind blowing in my face and bugs in my teeth. Having found myself green with envy whenever I saw a hardy Anchorage resident pedaling through the snow and ice I started trying to figure out a way to get a bike with studded tires and join the group of lunatics who ride bicycles outdoors during Alaskan winters.
It was really dark out there tonight (and this afternoon and morning, for that matter) and few lights were lit while I searched for Doug's address. I shuffled through snow and knocked on the garage door at the right address. It opened and one of Doug's employees motioned in the direction of a small room off the garage. There it was. It was sturdy and studded and powerful looking. I rolled it outside and rode it up and down a snowpacked street. The tires crunched through that snow, the wind was in my face and I felt the warm, syrupy flow of the only healthy addiction I've ever experienced return.
Can I afford it? Define "afford" for me. I'm paying for nursing school and not working, so do I have extra money lying around? No. That said, how can you put a price on rolling down a bike path in Alaska in the dead of winter, the hood of your coat covering your helmet, Thinsulate gloved hands gripping the handlebars, blowing by trees covered with ice and remembering that you lived in the sweltering heat of southern California for 35 years dreaming of a climate more to your liking? How can you say no to exercise that fills you with excitement? I can't.
So, I bought it. I have my alarm set for sunrise (no sacrifice - that'll be about 10 am tomorrow) and I'll suit up and hop aboard my wicked snow bike and take a frosty ride to celebrate the light at the end of the enema.