Monday, February 15, 2010

Adapting to New Environments



Nigel (left) and Jacari


I rode 31 miles yesterday. After being off the bike for a week because of the snow, I rode 12 miles Saturday and had a long ride yesterday with five other Lancaster racers who braved the wet roads.

I did not ride with them long. In fact, I got dropped on a hill no more than 300 feet long on the 3-mile ride to the meeting point at the official beginning of the ride. After the meeting point, I lasted another two miles, then turned off at the top of the first long hill. I did not want the rest of the group slowing down and waiting for me on every hill and that's what would have happened if I stayed. So I rode south to a 2.5 mile hill in the Village of Buck, rode to the top and rode home in a headwind.

After the ride, my wife said that the thing that might take me the longest in getting back to life in Lancaster is being able to keep up with my bike buddies. I think she is right. It will take months before I will be able to do the training rides. But I am still finding myself staring at landscapes that I would not have noticed before. I am still unpacking books and sorting papers from the year I was gone. I packed everything up because of all the construction in our house while I was gone. It's not big things, but I was clearly immersed in Iraq and after three weeks as a civilian, it still seems strange to have all the choices America offers.

Which lead me to think about Jacari. He will start spending weekends at our home by the end of the month and in the summer, we will begin the process of adopting him. Jacari is 11. He has been in foster care for almost four years with a really great family. He wants to be adopted, but even so, he will have so many things to adapt to with his new life.

I once took a stress test in a magazine. I was surprised to find that both good and bad events raise the stress level. The birth of a child and death of a parent had an equal score. Losing your home had a higher score than buying a home, but not a lot higher. So even if Jacari is completely happy with his new family, his new school, his new room, house, etc. he will be under some stress.

With yet another snow storm on the way, I miss Iraqi weather--at least Iraqi winter weather.