Friday, September 10, 2010

Cease Fire, September!

...I've got to catch my breath!

Eurobike in Friedrichshafen was only one week ago, yet it feels like eons ago already. This is what the month of September does to a person, and we forget about it til it lands between the eyes after the comparatively blah 11 months of the year.

Last Tuesday we arrived at 7 am to our tiny hotel in a small town called Stokach outside of Friedrichshafen, Germany (I just like typing that city name for some reason). We were exhausted after our 9 hour road trip turned into a 16 hour or so (we lost track) trip when the Swiss border patrol stopped us for not having correct commercial documentation from the Italian government for transporting 6 bikes up to the land of wiener schnitzel and hefeweizen. I guess they thought we'd be selling the bikes in Switzerland. Just to spite them, we should have cut a deal with the Italian border patrol - who were of course drooling over the Parlees and trying to help us as much as possible - and handed them each a bike to make the Swiss piddle their pants with envy. But the one positive about arriving was that we were greeted by Michelle, Phil's best college friend, since she'd hiked by way of train system from Geneva, Switzerland to see us. Needless to say, none of us had slept - so we cat napped til noonish and then got on with our day as if nothing had happened.

In any case, we got to Germany after pulling an all-nighter of driving through the Austrian mountain passes during a massive rainstorm and stopping three times to sleep for 20-45 minutes along the way. Keep in mind that all of this came after we spent the entire weekend building the bikes until 3 am or so each night, while waking up at 9 to start up again. I guess this is the life of trade shows from the opposite side of where I'm used to being: in the press tours, where they put you up, pay for everything, and make sure you're writing diligently each day while seated in the lap of marketing dollar luxury.

Well the actual show went very smoothly. We had a corner spot at the snazzy Shocker Distribution booth and our Z1, Z5 SL LTD, and CX bikes shone in their "ghost" matte black glory. It was rad to watch people walk past glancing about and to see more double-takes in front of me than in romantic comedies. Men and their bikes, I swear. Some would whip out the knock system - where you gently use your knuckles to listen to the sound the frame makes when you knock on it. Others would grab their little cameras and take pictures of tiny, carbon clamps and outer cable systems, zooming in and snapping 10 shots from different angles. You could tell they were just biting at their bits to not steal the bike away for a test drive. Every time Phil or Tom would remove the bike from the stand and explain something to the daring few who could handle its tempting presence on the ground, an entire mob of people would gravitate towards them, oohing and ahhing even when the language spoken may not be one they understood. The ultimate realization I made at this European show with throngs of people from around the globe is that all of them speak, you guessed it, cycling.

The last day there I realized my flight back to the US was going to be on Saturday instead of Friday. So I went along to the show for another fun day of carbon talk. Upon arriving, the key to the truck just disappeared. I searched everywhere for it to refill our stock of catalogs, but to no avail. The little key was MIA. The rest of the day was full of stress and scanning the ground. In the end, it was officially not in our hands, though it seemed it could just reappear any given second. It's sort of like a worst case scenario situation too, since I was to catch a 6 am train the very next morning leaving from Friedrichshafen up to Frankfurt in order to get back in time for the remainder of Chelsea and Noah's rehearsal dinner in Portland, Maine on Saturday night. (If you think that was a mouthful to read in one breath, try digesting that thought while French people are asking you questions that you answer in a mixture of Spanish and Italian!)

After a bit of help from the Scandinavian Parlee Rep, Alex, and his friends from Norway, Phil was able to drive me to the train station while Tom slept in the driver's seat before the last big day of the show. And with what seemed like a ton of bricks in my suitcase, a traversed the planes, trains, and automobiles into a rental car by 8 pm in Portland's airport and made it safely to the DeLorme farm of Freeport, Maine just in time for the little slideshow and a massive culture shock of english-speaking happiness :)

The very next day I awoke to a library of philosophical books at Noah's parents' house, and snuck out and over to Chelsea and Noah's new pad to join them for breakfast and a quick chat with Phil, who would be stuck in Germany for the coming week. Later, Suzanne and I went to work gathering wildflowers for the wedding and getting on the St. Croix boat headed over to the island at 1:30pm. The wedding took place and was out of a perfect fairy tale. Every friend was interesting, the DJ hilarious, the setting picturesque, and the happy couple basking in the glow of an east coast sunset with fresh lobster and hula hooping.

On Tuesday, about a day and a half after the wedding, I arrived home in Minnesota and was greeted by my two sisters and a beautiful dinner of fresh vegetables cooked with potatoes and seasoning. After so many airport pretzel and peanut packages atop wine from the wedding, my body came back to life out of its post-travel abuse coma. Mia and I went on a long walk around the lakes the next day and chatted about life and love and law. It was perfect, just as Calhoun always is. Later that night, my mom came to town and we all visitied Mia at work before she brought me back to St. Cloud where a brand new man would enter my life. Murphy. Or Smurphy, as I like to call him.

And that's where I am now. I walk with him, he kisses my hands and politely pulls me along the path. I talk to him - he listens intently before he plays, rolling around for belly rubs. We visited Saint Cloud State University's bustling beginning to a fall semester where he's surrounded by people who coddle and pet him as they recognize the change their lives are going through from the relaxation of summer to solid homework and little animal time. With Murphy around - even after the Vikings lost to the Saints 9-14 last night - life has become simple, lovely, and renewed with a dog in the house to start with our darling Sophie left off a couple years ago.

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