Tuesday, March 6, 2012

An Ode to my Trusty Steed

You deserved a better end than this. Six years ago I brought you home. I won't say "I bought you," because it was less impersonal than that. You'd called to me at the bike shop; sleek and dark grey with slightly bulbous lines to your frame, tucked in among brawny mountain bikes and trembling carbon-framed racing bikes. You weren't super fancy; you were a working bike, a steady bike, a commuter bike. We were kindred spirits.

You sped me along the river when I was first learning my way around DC. Together we braved the congestion of the Mount Vernon path, harsh headwinds and even the occasional blast of hot air coming off a jet warming up on the tarmac at National airport. Later, we rode together in the car 35 miles each morning from our little house in the countryside to the Metro parking lot. Then you and I took off on the path for the last 15 miles into work, most often in the dark. And over these last couple of years, you were my stalwart partner in moving from the Hard Core Suburbs to the District. You were the Sancho to my Quixote, the Tonto to my Lone Ranger, the jelly to my peanut butter.

I had other plans for you. I was going to keep riding you for at least another year, and then give you to one of the guys at the homeless shelter so that you could take him to work, or I would donate you to Bikes for the World so that somewhere in Africa or South America you would change the life of a child who could get to school or an adult who could get to the market. It was going to be a meaningful and dignified next phase for a steady friend, and you were going to continue to be loved and appreciated.

I spent all day today eying bike racks throughout DC. Where are you? Are you still in one piece? Are you being treated okay? I know your brakes were temperamental; is somebody easing into them to keep you from squealing in protest? Your little brass bell was just the right tone, is somebody ringing it jauntily? Is there enough air in your tires? Those friggin' rims of yours are really a pain--I can't count how many tire levers I busted trying to change tubes--but those nice tires rarely puncture.

I am trying to tell myself that the person who stole you from me is a person in pain. He's probably in the throes of some thing or another that has in turn stolen his will and his pride from him. I am trying to tell myself that he'll try to sell you, and that maybe somebody will see your bright pink seat and give him a few bills to bring you home to his daughter or his wife. Maybe you will bring a sense of liberation and possibility to another girl someplace, a girl who can't just go online or to a store and buy a new bike like I can.

Maybe starting tomorrow you will soar through the streets of DC again. I hope so. I miss you.

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