My cousin Eddie recently experienced near-disaster. Bad electrical wiring ignited a fire that ravaged an addition and one whole side of his house. Smoke damage, and electrical / structural repairs had rendered the house unlivable for the time being. Luckily no one was hurt, but he, his wife and two young daughters had to pack up what they could, and were forced to do what was unthinkable to his independent-minded sensibilities: Move back into his parent's house, until the extensive damage is repaired. At this point it looks like it will be a few long months. A stressful time for all involved.
The guy needed some kind of temporary escape, and quick. I instructed him to get his bicycle ready, I was coming over. I took him up to the best few miles of stress relief I know of: The Norwottuck trail.
I could see the his face and demeanor relax just a little the farther out we went. As the trees dropped away, and the road opened up before us into wide farmland, the first whiffs of "country-side" wafted by...
We parked at the Wal-Mart and headed west towards Northampton. It was already after sunset when we started, but I have the trusty headlight on my over-equipped bike, so no worries. The night was cooling but still warm, and still slightly humid. Good weather for a ride.
He doesn't get to Northampton much, so we rode all around town, as the twilight turned to darkness.
We had a seat on one of the benches and talked about all things music. Eddie has probably the keenest ears for quality music, especially new and upcoming bands, that I know. He often DJ's as a side gig, and has made a few recordings; (some of which I was roped into contributing my meager skills, on more than one occasion. ) We also worked together several years ago, at job we both endured for too many years, until moving on to greener pastures. The experience proved to be a crucible of fire though, one that forged many of our similar tastes and attitudes. During that time he introduced me to the all important Funk, early Hip-Hop, and also many of the better Alternative groups of the 90's. It was the right medicine at the right time.
Having almost identical upbringings, we also joked about our childhoods, our parents and family, and how different the kids of today are, including our own. Before we knew it, the night was getting pretty late; it was time to head back. As we joked and talked on the ride back, I could tell he was feeling a little refreshed, and a little more lighthearted. I was too, and I didn't even need it as bad.