On my bike ride home from work today I felt so good. There’s something about biking that makes me feel connected to my environment, to my body, to my breath. Often, as I’m coasting downhill after a long hard uphill, I feel struck with such a profound sense of gratitude that I’ll even say, “thanks,” out loud. Who/what am I thanking? Just existence. I’m just happy that random/intentional elements in the universe have collaborated in such a way to allow me to be myself, here, at this moment.
As I crossed 82nd Ave and entered the tunnel of trees that is Mill Street I remembered when Benny and I first moved to San Francisco in 2008 and what a challenging thrill it was to embrace the city by bike. After a couple weeks of public transit I tried biking and I was amazed at how it made this huge new place seem so manageable. I remembered biking to Golden Gate Park for the first time and coasting through the magical lush forest and emerging on the other side to the ocean! It was so dreamlike the way the trees suddenly fell away to crashing waves. I knew there was an ocean over there somewhere but I hadn’t realized how close I was to it, that I could bike there.
I looked through my journals from that time thinking there was probably a very detailed entry about that experience. I was surprised to find just a line or two about it, but I did find some other stuff I enjoyed reading. It was so jarring to try to adjust to city life after eight years in a small college town, and it’s interesting to see my past self needing to get to Portland. It’s a good thing I made it here.
Today I decided to ride my bike from our apartment to Golden Gate Park, about five miles. There were more hills than I expected, although I’m not sure why I didn’t expect hills.
Every time I take the bike out I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and joy. It gives me the feeling that I have control not only over my environment and my direction, but also over my life. I suppose this is also how having a car must feel to most people, especially for a teenager. I don’t really remember having that feeling though, when mom and dad came home with the Corolla for me and Leah to share. Maybe because even with the car, there was nowhere I wanted to go.
I’m beginning to miss Chico now. At first I just missed my friends. Now what I miss is space, the room to breathe, the oaks and pines and furry redwoods. The cool air in the night, stars that you can see, the accessibility of everything, the way you can fall into adventure like tripping on a rock. I want some of that here. That feeling of belonging. Of knowing the best places. The sense that even though we come from different places we all grew up the same. Trust.
I miss swimming in the cold green deep rushing water in the midst of dry crackling heat so hot you fear it is literally baking you all the way through. I miss bike riding to a friend’s house on the other side of town for dinner and wine and sitting out under the moon with rolled cigarettes.
I saw the moon the other night, full and bright, as Benny and I walked down Polk Street on our way home from dinner at a Thai place. It seemed out of place here in the city, like it had lost its way. I felt disconnected from it and everything it represents: magic, nature, open spaces and connection with natural cycles. Finding your way outside in the dark, and quiet. I keep yearning for these things and marveling and how I got here, to the city.
But sometimes when I’m cruising down a fast hill on my bike, the sweat drying cold on my temples, I feel glad to be in a place of such rich art and culture, a place where people go to have adventures and pursue their dreams. And I’m getting better at moving through crowds without being overwhelmed, and I love the views and the bike ride through the park to the ocean.
But a big part of me is reaching forward to the afterwards and planning for a life in Oregon.