Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Flat Tire Paradise
Somewhat as a result of some self reflection, over the past few weeks, I changed the name of my blog. When I started this endeavor almost two years ago, my entire life was revolving around cameras, pictures, photography, and travel -- primarily in the desert Southwest. I am really unsure of the new name, since the old one was just simply descriptive, and the new one is ... well, slightly more philosophical.
Today, my life revolves around ... and around. If I have a camera these days, it's incidental, and more often than not, it's a cell phone and not a 4x5" film camera. Occasionally, I will throw my digital into my bike bag (and go to a bike race in Menlo Park on Saturday). It's a lot more likely I am carrying a spare tube. And some tubes of gu.
My blogging and reading the blogs of cyclists has led me to be back on a bike. Why I was drawn to the cycling blogs, or they drawn to me is a subject needing academic study by someone like Studs Terkel. But the truth is, reading about cycling put me back on a bike. On January 26 last year, I got back on a bike and rode 6 broken miles. I never should have quit in the first place. Those of you that inspired me, I should live longer because of it.
I live in a major metropolitan area -- a gorgeous city -- with a fairly poor transit system, and I rarely drive. My life is much more defined by a bike, my family, caring for my aging parents, and contemplating a haircut, than it is by 30,000 annual miles of desert driving, to get a camera into some crowded backcountry paradise. There's a strong community in my life today, and I haven't driven my own car this year. I live a much different life today, then I did two years ago in Mesa. When I cut my hair my friends said, "Was this ponytail longer than the last one?" and not, "Wow, I didn't recognize you."
When I look to what defines my life today, it's a gritty, joyous ride through wet manhole covers, potholes the size of a basketball, and an endless stream of broken green and brown bottles. Steep little hills that kick the crap outta Arizona. Horns honking, adrenaline pumping, lunchtime brawls into downtown for szechuan. Me dodging hazards and taxicabs to dine at one of 4000 restaurants, each with a Gypsy folk band. Or it's the meal I cook at home, the same one my mother cooked for me twice a month for the last so many years.
It's friendly cafes, family rock concerts, my father's workshop. Always -- I am a mule carrying groceries and a computer, dog biscuits in my pocket, raingear, shoes, a change of clothes, the encyclopedia brittanica, and a potted plant, and Shawn, don't forget to get the milk; It's me on a bike in a flat tire paradise, pushing these yellow bars into the mist.