Me, A Book, & A Bicycle

by

That was today’s story.

End of blog.

Well, ok, there may have been a little more to today than just that, but not a whole lot more.

I went grocery shopping in the Haight on a Saturday at Whole Foods.

That was exciting.

I was mistaken for a tourist, which was funny.

“Pretty cold, eh?” A store owner asked me as I peeked my nose into a corner store that I walk past frequently when I am pushing the stroller through Cole Valley and the Upper Haight neighborhood.

“Uh, yeah, typical weather, I guess, I’ve got my layers on,” I said politely.

“Oh, you’re a local, look at that!”  He grinned up from the paper he was reading, “I should have noticed you weren’t in flip flops and shorts.”

Yup.

Layers.

It might be hot, humid, and sunny most everywhere else, but here, on this side of town, it’s about 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, with a thick veil of fog and a chill breeze snaking up your sleeves and under your coat.

I just got back from a bike ride from 46th and Irving.

It took me about twenty minutes.

It is not flat like people have been telling me.

Uh, no.

It’s not horribly steep and I did not stand up on my pedals but once, but it is a steady climb and about ten minutes in, despite the nippy bite of ocean wind and the lowering fog bank, I was warm and breaking a sweat.

I am sure I could cut down that time by about five minutes once I am used to the route.

But that is what about how much time it took for me to get from 46th and Irving to Cole and Frederick.

Twenty minute commute to work.

Instead of a forty minute commute to work.

I will pass by fish markets and sushi restaurants, there’s an Andronico’s, a surf shop, all the little markets and cafes and restaurants on Irving in the inner Sunset.

Although I may not ride my bike through that part of the neighborhood frequently, there’s a lot of traffic coming and going and parking and not much using of turn signals.

But I did not see once prostitute.

Nor one drug deal.

Or hear a siren.

I did get a few cars that drove a little too close for comfort.

But that is going to happen where ever you bicycle.

Other places I rode my bike to today–the Mission and Bernal Hill.

Although I did not ride my bicycle all the way up Cortland, it’s a little too steep for a one speed.

I swung through the Mission, stopping by the bike shop to see about picking up my bicycle saddle, but they were swamped and I had a moment when I realized if I were to stay I would probably end up jumping in and helping them and I had a place to be and it was not at the shop.

I will go by tomorrow.

Sunday will be quieter and I will swing over to my friend’s house and grab the ride and see about getting it outfitted with the new saddle.

It does sparkle.

It will look pretty fabulous.

It will.

I shelved the saddle (having snuck in the back no one in the shop even registered I was there) and sorted out the mail for the design firm, recycled the junk mail, and stealthily left the way I came in without being seen or noticed.

I caught myself contemplating going back and working for them while I have these next two weeks of down time ahead of me.  But I could hear my friend’s voice in my head, “don’t go backwards,” and I knew he was right and I don’t want to be there and there are better things for me to do with my time.

Even if it is just to sit on my bum and read a book.

I picked up a used copy of  Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and headed to Martha’s to await my 4pm check in.

I got a cup of coffee, spiked it with cinnamon, settled down at a table, put my feet up and dissolved into a book.

To only dissolve into tears a little later when I did my check in.

What is it with the emotions man?

I mean they were not as bad or overwhelming as yesterday, but yeah, still there.

“It sounds like you feel like a newcomer,” she said to me, “really raw and vulnerable.”

Yup, that sounds about right.

Really raw and vulnerable.

But not checking out with a vat of ice cream or a bag of donuts.

Just a book and a cup of coffee.

I wondered as I sat there and talked and looked out the window at the sky, just far enough removed from the fog that it was not misty on Bernal, but still chill, the cirrus clouds, high, wispy, tattered, spun across the blue sky, I wondered, if maybe I need to go back on antidepressants.

“You sound depressed,” she said to me.

And that hit a little closer to home than I thought it would.

I will admit I have been feeling blue, but I have been chalking that up to the discomfort of being rootless and getting back to the bay and starting over.

“Hey Carmen,” an acquaintance said this evening, “missing Paris?”

Fuck off.

“A little,” I said and smiled wanly.

“Oh, I’ll bet,” he continued.

Dude.

We aren’t friends, now stop it.

“Do you have any girlfriends you can lean on right now,” she asked and sipped her tea as I pulled my eyes away from the high feathery clouds and back to her green searching gaze.

“I do.” I said and thought how I got to see Joan and Tami this week and that was really good.  How I got to see my lady Jennifer last night and how good that was.

I had also called another friend earlier today to ask what she was up to.

“Just got done with work…dinner?  coffee? are you still in town?….”

The text read when I wrapped up at Martha’s and just as I was putting down my phone and turning off the ringer, she walked in.

Saved by the friend.

We went to dinner.

I met her daughter.

We headed out to the ocean and I saw the room.

It’s looking good.

It’s all looking good.

“You are doing the work, I can see that, it sounds like you just need to be gentle to yourself and work on acceptance.” She said and I nodded.

Nothing in my world is a mistake.

Not myself.

Not where I live.

Not who I am.

A room by the ocean, a bicycle to ride, a book to read, time to accept the reality of my life and to honor the gifts therein.

And my friends.

Thank you for my friends.

Again and again and again.

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