I have a birthday coming up. A decade. I'd meant to ask people contribute to the facelift fund, but I've seen too many facelifted zombies on both sides of the Atlantic. My suggestion of a bicycle was met with rather more enthusiasm on the part of the probable participants in my birthday present. An old bike, I rectified, one that won't attract thieves.
So now--a week or so in advance of the actual occasion--I have an oldish bike. Really it looks brand new. I thought of layette pink or powder blue, imagining the probable bike thieves as masculine (gender profiling) and turned off by pastels. It turns out to be grey with black flame things. It has gears, a headlight and a backlight and a sturdy lock (pain in the ass, the lock, I'd rather do without, it doesn't contribute to my sense of freedom). I have a helmet, hard on the curly hairdo. So I'm accessorized.
The last time I did any serious bike riding was when I was eight, getting to school. Times were simpler. Then last summer, at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, I borrowed a bike to shorten the ride between dinner and studio/living quarters. I loved it. I have gone on imagining every inch of that ride--fantastically terrifying after dark, because the dark was so dark there--as the happy place that helps me doze off when insomnia threatens. I imagine bungee-strapping my lunch basket to the rack, throwing my leg over the bar, getting going on the gravel rise, passing Paulette (from Mexico City)'s studio, then an uphill stretch of blacktop with cars, a quick swerve onto another dirt road that wound uphill, past Mike (from Ithaca, or maybe Syracuse?)'s studio, past the gazebo, then leveling off through the woods (foxes at night or something with shine-in-the-dark eyes), and coming out along a swathe of pasture (the stars, going home after dark!), with chickens pecking around a gypsy caravan, and a vegetable patch. Colony Hall: drinks, dinner.
Still wobbly riding around here. It's pretty chaotic: students flying around top speed without lights, in all directions, skateboarders (ditto)--they must think they are invulnerable--and pedestrians, and in some places, cars. I feel going on ten. I'm trying to act my age; ie, in theory at least, responsible.