The first time I traveled to California, I was with Patrick. The second, I biked here from the other side of America. The third, I scattered his ashes.
We crossed the California state line last week.
Despite the heaviness I expected to feel upon crossing, I couldn't help but smile. We made it here. We made it here from Alaska. We made it here on our bicycles. We chanted a ridiculous rendition of "California Here We Come" and rushed to the state sign once the whole team was assembled. We danced and took selfies and sang every other California-themed song we could recall. There we met many of the friends we'd been riding on and off with for weeks (hey Jessie, Erica, Megan and Brett!) and all squeezed together in one gaint, sweaty hug.
This is how I want California to feel. I want it to feel like my friends, my teammates, my family. Like accomplishment and like new beginnings. I want it to not remain a burial place, but a birth place. That's what Patrick would have wanted.
Our first night in California mirrored the same lively sentiments. A local church offered to host all the touring cyclists in the area, which that night happened to be a massive group of 15. We compared quads, shared stories, patched tubes, and laughed.
Patrick never got to bike to the California state line as he planned, but on that day I feel that he did. Patrick lived for community, Patrick savored the ridiculous moments. I could almost swear he was with us in that sweaty group hug.