Watching my father struggle to ride up a bumpy hill, I let out the rarest of my emotions and begin laughing. “Dad, when did you get so old. Or maybe knobby tires are not for writers?” Awkwardly dismounting while leaving his dropper post fully extended he sighs. “Can we just go fishing?” “We can, do you plan to do that in the spring?” “preferably sooner,” he answers back. “Doubtful. We won’t be done with this 6 mile loop before mid summer. You may want to reschedule your next adventure.” He laughs and smiles. I am rarely this sarcastic. Maybe even rarely this talkative. I’m chilly and outside on a bike and can’t help my mood. I like that my mood makes him happy and when not feeling quite so smiley will try to fake it a bit in the future. “You are so French, it truly is your mother’s fault, her being from there and all. It actually is painful for you to be happy and even more painful for you to be nice to me. So, much so that I either get one or the other. Well, jokes on you! I prefer you happy to kind.” He says with a wink. As we start pedalling again I begin to dwell on his words and my happiness fades to feelings of disappointment. I know I let him down. Sure, he was joking. But there is still truth in is words. I struggle to be happy. It hurts those around me far more than it hurts me. The sarcasm, that I’m ok with. But the lack of sparkling excitement I bring to those I love actually brings me down. With a shrug, I lift my front wheel off the ground and remind myself of the first time. The first time as a child when I wheelied, I felt like I had mastered the whole world. A short time later I eat a sandwich at a small patio table. I watch people with no smile or frown. Masked emotionless strangers. It’s still weird to me. Safer or otherwise it is crappy. My father is talking about the ride then my Mom. He loves her so much he can’t have a meal without describing how she could have made it better. “Dad, does wearing a mask bother you?” I interrupt his detail explanation of how his wife would prefect our lunch. “Of course not. It could prevent someone else from being sick.” “So could random kindness. I mean if we are talking mental health but people rarely bother with that.” I respond with a half smile. “French, yes... Rachel my love. You simply will never escape being French. If you were not my favorite of all humans I maybe would not even be able to tolerate your company.” Dad tells me with a chuckle. “I’m tolerable. I suppose one could do worse.” It strikes me as a sudden bolt. Near probably what lighting hitting the Earth is like. I can’t hold it back and I cry. Not soft tears but an explosion of sobbing. I’m so fortunate. The man who loves my mother more than breath in this world, sees me as his favorite human. With a sniffing of snot I say, “Today is perfect!” He makes a funny face and says, “Nope, you are and bikes make you silly!” In a stoic manner I respond, “I make bikes fast and pretty. The least they could do is make me silly.” “French! Your mother made you French, and that is her only single lack of perfection.” We laugh and I smile like a goofy kid who can ignore a world of chaos because they are loved. I have grown up so much, I laugh and cry now when I feel like it. I’m not embarrassed and am truly chill with the emotion of the moment. If I were a seagull I’d be a near flawless brilliant white, soaring and diving at will! ( a reference to Jonathan Livingston Seagull written by Richard Bach, an epic book if one must know) Yep, I’m pretty good these days. Of course I rode a bike today.