Have you felt guilty for being able to take time to be outdoors? I have.
WRITTEN & PHOTOS BY ANDREA MOLINA
2021 SJ BROOKS SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT
My mother is 61, and as recently as her late 50’s, she had never left El Salvador, our home. She does not lack a sense of adventure or desire to travel, but money has always been a huge limitation.
I left home when I was 15 with a scholarship, so I had access to moving around at a young age. But when I told my mother about my long bikepacking trip plans, she was not only scared but strongly against it.
I had been low-key dreading breaking the news to her because I suspected how she would react. Unfortunately, I was not wrong; damn, that phone call did not go well.
“How could you leave your job and let your U.S. work visa go to waste? Just to go ride your bike?!”
I hung up the phone and could not help feeling deep sadness and anger, but mostly guilt.
My mother wasn’t wrong; I mean, getting a U.S. visa is fricking complicated and expensive. But this trip had been a dream of mine, and our conversation made me realize that my mother never had the privilege of pursuing her dreams.
There are so many expectations for immigrants, first-generation, low-income, and BIPOC folks in general, and this whole “pursuing your dreams” thing is kind of a new concept to a lot of us. It’s heavy. Way too heavy. And those big expectations represent huge limitations for us getting outside.
Dealing with (all kinds of) guilt is not fun. But I decided to carry on with the trip, and I’m so glad I did. It has been a life-changing opportunity to reclaim not only my time but also my overall autonomy. Because of this, for many of us, getting on a bike is a radical act, a chance to challenge old narratives and create new ones. Do you wonder why you don’t see a lot of other BIPOC riders on extended trips? Guilt and access to resources are huge factors!
So, instead of letting guilt paralyze me, I carried on; because my mom and I both dreamed of freedom.