Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Whew. That was close. I almost became a regular blogger back there in August. I've been so busy, happily so, adjusting to the new job and trying to get into a rhythm of biking to work. I seem to have had the opposite problem of John at Cycling in Wichita, who was having trouble with cooler temperatures; the heat was getting to me. No reason to sweat, the slow bike movement claims, unless, you know, your ride involves going uphill on the home commute and it's a humid 80+. So I waited. We also had some fierce weather, as in lightning almost every afternoon, but the idea of biking in remained a siren song. Now, I've had some beautiful mornings, and I'm fairly addicted to mornings in the high 60's-low 70's, the ride up past beautiful farmhouses and green lawns (I settled on a longer route than the one I filmed, to avoid the car-whizzing road on the most direct route). I'm out at about 6:45, and here is the thing I enjoy most amid the dewy fog rising off of the green all around me, the dark lifting to orange, and it's a funny and poignant sight all at once: high-schoolers waiting for their buses. I turn the bike out onto the street, and halfway up the block are a gaggle of children in uniform, mostly African-American, who by now are getting used to me, but for whom I provided quite a spectacle at first glance. Adults, of course, are so ridiculous. Giggles, "where she goin' ?"; "hey, it's bike lady." Up and over the hill, where the road opens to farms and houses set back behind trees, it's mostly white kids, two or lone standing at street signs, already dressed to perfection in the costume of their tribe. My favorite is two punk girls: the tunics, the tights, the leather boots, gelled hair, black eyeliner, lacquered lips and nails, who never fail to stare in open-mouthed wonder and disdain as I ride past. They look so awkward and assured all at once. I suppose the adjective is incongruous: me, with the cool of the air on my skin and the scent of morning making its way past my cappuccino fueled self, while they scan for the bus, anxious as if something might mar them before the yellow doors swing open and sweep them off to their world, backpacks and cellphones, lockers and rules, that beautiful and ruthless self-consciousness of teenagers, two of whom lean against the street post, snicker, and silently telegraph what the hell are you looking at ? But I see their eyes slide as the bike glides by, how freely it escapes the yellow behemoth coming up from behind as they await the hiss and the hot air of the unfolded doors and I ride on.