The "late night ride" lived up to its billing. We started at 10 p.m. and I finally put my head on my pillow the next morning at 4 a.m. Encompassed in those hours were a few miles on my trusty bike to downtown, weaving in and out of party-ers on Main, great conversation over coffee, circling downtown parks and parking lots in our own version of an obstacle course, garlic tofu at an all-night Asian restaurant overlowing with those same party-ers, and a couple of stop-and-live-in-the-moment moments.
An adventure? Definitely. Worth it? Definitely. To be repeated? Not exactly.
Wind in the face in the early morning hours is an exquisite experience. I'd take that again any day/night. Stories of great views we've seen, strange foods we've eaten, stimulating people we've met, all the while watching the passing parade of diverse downtown fashion -- that's a conversation over coffee that's worthy of repetition without a doubt.
But I learned something. What you see on a bike in downtown Houston at 1:00 in the morning is pretty much what you are going to see in downtown Houston at 2:00 in the morning and almost exactly what you'll see at 3:00 in the morning -- only the degree changes. If someone is loud at 1:00, they're louder at 2 and 3. If someone is dazed and confused at 1:00 they're probably out of it at 3. If someone is defying gravity with the blouse she's got on at 1:00, the fabric is stretched to its limit by 3. Basically, if you're loaded at 1:00, then you're driving at 3 and asking for directions to the freeway that I'm not all that sure I should be giving you.
In other words, there are a lot of people drinking a lot of alcohol in downtown Houston at 1, 2 and 3 in the morning.
And even if I wear white so you can see me on my very cool red bike . . . and even if my new friend and conversationalist has a light on his even cooler two wheeler. . . and even if my guide to this rather radical experience knows exactly where we are going . . . I can't keep the two voices in my head from arguing with one another.
One says, "That truck is driving way too fast and if you're not paying attention, you're going to get hit." And, "We're going to ride in front of the bus station??? Are you crazy? Look at that guy. He could grab your bike in a second and you'd be down for the count."
While the other admonishes, "You'd never get to see the streets of the city in this light if you weren't here at this moment." And, "Adventures involve risk and are almost always worth it. See? That guy didn't even notice you. He was probably concerned about your sanity."
So I decided to listen to both.
That night I took every moment as it came -- the waterfall in the theater district, the guy who couldn't find the bar or his car and needed more help than we could give (though we tried), the songs playing in and outside the clubs that would get stuck in my head and I'd sing lines from throughout the morning, the cast of characters at the restaurant, the tales of travels past and desired future, the cold -- yes cold -- ride home.
But, if asked to join this merry band once again, I'd agree on one condition -- I'm heading home at midnight.