As I enter the fourth week of my involuntary vacation (I'm unemployed again, apparently) I find myself taking longer and longer rides on my bicycle. My goal is to live on my bike, a term we all are familiar with, I suppose, but at the same time, what does it mean?
This is the best time of year where I live here in Florida. The thermometer hovers around 75 degrees during the day, the nights are cool and the windows are open. Overnight, it seems, my world turned green, everywhere it is green and cool and the breezes are just right, blustery sometimes and variable, as they say, but just right all the same. Also, I don't know if they are migrating or just suddenly found themselves down and out and living in a trailer park, but all manner of birds have arrived, robins and cardinals and woodpeckers and bluejays and others; I can hear, as I sit here at my table, chirpings and singing and squawkings and they sound as though they are having a blast, those birds. At least I hope they are.
As for me, I have been riding not far, but long. Ever a master of time and space, I know how to do it, this drifting, this going nowhere and taking my time to get there. I have been doing probably thirty miles, maybe more, each day, setting out around ten a.m. when my Florida world is perfect: the sun just right, the cars settled into their routines and cadences; I pedal off with nowhere to go and nothing to do when I get there. What I am usually doing is poking around out on the far corners of town, looking at one acre pieces of ground that I have found listed for sale on the internet. Small pieces of uncut jungle, mostly, the kind of places homeless guys who truly live on their bicycles are known to seek out. Places that are not too far from supermarket sustenance or the conveniences (and bathrooms) of handy neighborhood parks and public libraries.
“Are you going anywhere with this? You seem to be rambling.
“Silence, Voice! I know what I'm doing here, mostly.”
Well, a lot of people read this stuff at work and don't have much time and besides, aren't you supposed to be concise and sparkling and kill somebody by the end of the first chapter?
“What? Kill somebody?”
Yeah and then you spend about a hundred and fifty pages having the hero sort things out and you sprinkle in some red herrings and false plants and misdirection and there is lots of action. Plus you can use juxtaposition and non-linear timelines to keep the reader off-balance and...
“Voice! Stop! Calm down! What the hell are you talking about? You sound like you've been auditing writing classes out at some Junior College somewhere. Wait a minute...is that where you...”
Well, someone has to do it! I didn't have anything else to do while you were off in the outback building those stupid McGrease's. At least one of us is trying to better himself and find a way out of this damn trailer park.
“OK, buddy, take it easy. You just caught me by surprise there, for a minute. Look, this piece here ain't a murder mystery, it's just a rambling post about, uh, rambling. And, by the way, that stuff you were spouting is what results in formulaic fiction. You're better than that, partner.”
What we need is a formula for some dollars. I really like that property out on Cow Creek Road. The one with the little pond and the big oak out front.
“I like that one, too. Let me finish up here and we'll pedal out there and have another look.”
Waiting For FedEx
So there you have it. That's what I am doing, these days: pedaling around on some new trails, new roads that are familiar to me and yet, not; I'm looking at my roads a little differently. Things look different when you are seeking a new place, a new home...
To that end I recently fired off one of my yearly $100 (free shipping!) bike parts orders. There will be newer, fatter tires, a rear rack (and a front one as well) and a new seat and a light kit. I am prepping my old Schwinn Le Tour, Little Miss Dangerous, getting her ready for living on my bicycle. Not homeless, but ready. I was waiting (and waiting and waiting) for a magical time when I could buy some Surly or Velo Orange dream machine, but reality has set in (as it is wont to do) and it occurred to me that Little Miss could get the job done just fine. We'll find out.
TJ the DJ
I recently started listening to music while I ride, plugging in earphones and streaming mostly what is called New Age or Ambient music. I previously scorned such a practice as unsafe, but so far it seems safe enough. For my aimless roaming around town at lazy speeds it seems safe enough for me. And it has opened an entirely new dimension, (almost literally) of riding. If I were on a fast intermodal run or on my way to someplace I had to be, it wouldn't work, I don't think. But for just rambling around the countryside, or doing big figure eight's in the empty parking lot of a failed strip mall, it is just right.
A lot of things are just right, lately. That would make a good name for a bicycle company, don't you think? Just Right Bikes.
Success Is Mine, Sayeth the Cyclist
Yesterday, after about four hours in the saddle, I was coming around a bend in the road and for just a moment, a brief flickering moment of time and life, I did not know where I was. Lost in a dream, flutes and tinkling bells and acoustic guitar echoing around the vast empty spaces of my mind, I suddenly found myself disoriented and with absolutely no idea where I was. I only knew that I was on my bicycle, pedaling to the rhythm of my heart, lost.
That's what I am trying for, it seems; I'm trying to pedal my way to another place. I think it is working.
Whispering Pines Trailer Park and House of Dreams
April 18, 2014