Free Falling


After a year and a half of riding fixed gear I am back to a free wheel cog.

I thought I was going to die tonight.


I realized two things rather quickly, the bicycle felt out of control underneath my legs, and indeed it was, my legs no longer were regulating my speed and two, I had to relearn how to rely on my hand brake.


I did not realize until I was barreling down 15th street from the top of Castro having left my darling friends to digest the great big delicious Thai dinner we had just eaten, just how much I have relied on my legs in the last year and a half.

What a difference a cog can make.

I took my bicycle in today to the shop to fix the flat and have them replace the Vittoria tire with a puncture resistant Randonneur.  I also said, as I filled out the tag, flip over the wheel, put it back to free wheel so I can coast and save my old lady knees from an early retirement.

I was slightly abashed but having had my fill of I am hipper than thou, who cares, I was ready to begin the return to coasting along.

“Why did you decide to ride in fixed gear?” My friend asked me.

“He was cute,” I replied, “and he gave me shit and I am vain.”

That sums up why I do things.

“Why did you take that acid?”

“He was cute.”

“How come you’ve gone vegan?”

“He’s cute.”

Good lord, do I do anything without the cute boy influence?

“You went to Paris for yourself,” my friend pointed out.

Yes, I did do that.

And said friend helped me to back up all my photos today!

All 4, 718 of them.

Hard to believe that I have taken that many photographs when once upon a time I took none at all, just the pictures in my brain.

That was my MO.

I am taking a memory.

I have  a great memory, but it is not photographic.

Having had a camera now, a good one, one that I can beat up and take to Burning Man and shove in a case and bump along on my back in my messenger bag and use every which way I turn, has been eye-opening for me.

I see things differently and I see things with a subconscious eye.

I do not always know until I go back and look at a photograph what it was that caused me to stop and take the shot.  There is always something.  I know when I see a frame I like, tree limbs, doorways, a line of lamp posts marching down the street.

But sometimes I am unaware of why I just found that certain something so appealing to look at.  I just took the shot.

“These are the last ones you took?”  He asked me as the cat watched sleepy and cozy in a red blanket across the way.

“Yeah, I stopped using my camera as much because I was afraid to down load any more shots to the computer, I did not want to bother with it,” I replied.   Realizing almost immediately that I have wasted three weeks of not taking photographs out of fear.

“Oh.  That’s not good,” he said.

He is a professional.

He is an amazing photographer.

He was encouraging me to not do that again.

“Did you guys get all the photography stuff figured out,” my friend asked as I was packing up my laptop and about to get onto my bicycle and go for the ride of my life.

“Yup.  All backed up.”  I said adjusting the bag on my shoulders.

“Thank God.” She said, relief coloring her words enough that I stopped and straightened.

“Have you not seen them,” I asked.

“Not enough, and I was so worried that something would happen to your computer when you were traveling and I would not get to see them.” She said, “I mean really worried.”

You were?

You were!

That coupled with a few comments that people have made to me over the last few weeks since my return have really hit me.

People were watching and reading and regarding.

My journey was not undocumented for any old reason.

Every time I took out my camera, every time I wondered what the hell was I doing out on a walk in the snow to capture the park bench at Square D’Anvers or the stairs around Sacre Couer, some one, some where was waiting and watching for them.

That is stupendous validation.

“Oh, you applied here!” She said to me today as I was meeting up with someone to discuss the importance of self-care.

“Amongst some other things, yes, I am currently working as a nanny and I have a friend I am going to help out with once a week, and the bike shop has asked for me back too, which is super flattering, but they have not made a money offer and I don’t think it’s the place for me right now.” I said as I smiled at her pretty face.

One of my friends who happen to be in Paris at the same time I was ran into the shop I was in and flagged me down with big French “Bonjour!” and cheek kisses.

“Oh my god!  And you should help them with their website, you have a presence and their page needs some work!”

“It does?”

(I do?)

“Ah yeah, and you have readers and followers and could help them out.” She continued, “and you’re done with the bike shop, move on.”

I smiled, “so good to see you!”

“Yes, coffee soon when we can sit down and really chat.”

I have no perspective on myself.

I really don’t.

Thank God I have friends who love me and are honest with me and help me.

My computer is happily backing up onto a “cloud” somewhere (you know, up in the clouds with magic computer gods astride rainbow unicorns) and all my photographs are safe.

Which is a good thing, I thought as I flew down the hill heading toward Market street because when I die going thirteen times faster on my bicycle then when I was riding fixed it will be good to know that my photographs are safe in the hands of said computer gods.

And since I made it home, Speedy Gonzalez like, I now make this vow.

I will get out my camera tomorrow and start documenting again.

I may feel like I am falling down the hill, but there is direction and purpose–the fall line is there for a reason–even if I can’t see it now.

I will be able to soon.

And you will see it before I do.

I promise.

Street Art

Operator, i would like to make a collect call


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