After pedaling through the drizzle of Hilo yesterday, I found myself grateful that my skin is waterproof. We are sensitive, porous creatures, absorbing both toxins and medicines from our environment every day, but if you douse me with water I won't melt. I also won't become so heavy and waterlogged that you have to squeeze me out, like a sponge. Although I pictured that for a moment, when I got home and Alex pulled me in for a soggy embrace.
On my cross-country bike tour, I rode through all kinds of weather. Sure, there were times that I didn't want to ride under the hot sun in Kansas or through the cold downpour in Tennessee, but waiting out the weather didn't seem like a good option. There was always the chance that the sun or rain would be just as unrelenting the next day. And I didn't want to wait it out: the forward motion towards my goal was addicting.
My skin, tent, and bicycle bags (called panniers) were all equally waterproof. I could roll through anything, it seemed, and have clean, dry clothes to change into afterwords. That's what kept me going, sometimes: knowing that fluffy, warm socks were tucked safely in the depths of my pannier, and I wouldn't be sopping wet forever.
I purchased four yellow Ortleib bike panniers from REI six years ago. It cost $300 for the set, which felt like a big investment for me as a senior in college. I have never once regretted it. I use them every day, to carry everything from mangos to laptops to potted plants to pumpkins. They are as waterproof as they day I bought them, as cheery as ever, and have the same magical, limitless capacity as Mary Poppin's bag. So often people ask me, "How are you going to get that home?" I stand there, holding the three smoothies I just purchased from Sweet Cane Cafe or the armload of frozen beef ribs I got from the butcher shop, and tell them, "they'll fit". And somehow, they always do.