i pulled my old bike out of the garage for the first time in two years, i think. it was a bike that belonged to my uncle back in the seventies. after he'd retired it, it sat in my grandmother's backyard gathering dust, rust and spider eggs. i don't remember exactly how it ended up in our backyard, but five years ago, i dug it out of its resting place and fixed it up the best i could.
i've taken it to the burning man festival in nevada a couple summers since, and pulling it out today i had to wash playa dust from its crevices. the summer of 2005, i camped next to two very nice lesbian ladies who fed me quesadillas one evening and told me my bike looked "gay." maybe it was the seventies skull sticker that adorned the front of it that refuses to wash off after thirty years. maybe it was the exuding masculinity left over from my uncle. maybe that old dirt bike is just to kick-ass for a girl like me. but for whatever reason, i pouted a little while chowing down on my meal and pretended my bike and i weren't offended just slightly.
i still ride it, now with a tentative shyness. people stare and i'm sure it's because they're jealous.
riding that thing this evening all over creation, discovering places of my hometown i didn't know existed reminded me of my childhood. i had wheels for legs in those days. the bikeseat wearing my adult buttcheeks sore, i tried to grasp at a childhood that didn't seem as far away as it actually has become. another work day wasn't looming before me then, and i still had an entire summer before me.
there are amenities that have come with age since my relationship with those bike rides of the eighties. i carry bottled water to stay hydrated, of course, and my ipod tags along. ironically, i choose to listen mostly to eighties music and marvel at how my life has come to this place.. thinking about the pals who used to ride alongside me and wondering where they went, what became of them, and how easily friendships ended in the days of slow-moving communication. (back when my best friend moved to wyoming, i didn't even know how to send a letter to her.)
after a few miles on foot and some photos taken, i found a gas station with an air pump and filled up my tires for fifty cents and bought another bottle of water. the bike seemed to have been resurrected, and with it, my second wind arrived. we rode on for another hour.
my new polaroid spectra was tested and performed admirably. i also took the nikon my grandfather gave to me back when i was a prisoner on the banks of north carolina. that camera has been the best gift i've ever received, though waiting for film to be processed is always a bit of a nail-biting, time-consuming experience. i loved hearing the mechanics and the whirrs of the polaroid creating instantaneous satisfaction this evening. but is it really just the novelty and simplicity that draws me to this new camera? if i had to choose a sidekick to follow me throughout my days, it'll always be my nikon.
on my way home, and with my very last polaroid photo, i caught a rather hidden shed with the words "something special" marked above its doors. it felt like a small gift left there for me to discover.
so i'm sharing that gift by way of instant photomaking.