Monday, July 30, 2007


I bought my Trek bike 13 years ago when I left my husband and returned to Boston. After five years of marriage and life in the sticks, working always more than one job and always being totally broke, I celebrated by going to live music shows every week and buying myself a bike.

International Bicycle in Allston was having a sale and I got my Trek Mountain Track for a mere three hundred dollars, which felt like a small fortune at the time.

Flannery O'Connor often uses the car as symbolism for self-determination, destiny, freedom. So it was with my bike. My bike was my declaration of independence. The minute the weather permitted, I was zooming through traffic, along the Charles, buying bike shoes with my friend Jessica and falling over when we forgot to unclip. The Trek has been good to me, performing despite the fact I don't get it tuned up nearly often enough, suffering my rough treatment like a hardy, healthy friend. I depended on it to get me through heavy traffic, over rough streets.

Getting the new bike was part admitting it was time for a bike better suited to my needs, but it was also part realizing that my old friend was heading for retirement. I picked up the new bike and in the basement of my apartment building quietly transferred the bike rack, water-bottle holder, bike-lock holder, and headlamp grip to the Marin. When I was done, I looked at the Trek, more stripped than I'd seen it in over a decade.

You know that feeling you get when you move out of a place where you've created great memories? Even if the move is voluntary and positive, there comes that moment when you've boxed the last item, swept the floors, left the keys on the counter for the next occupant. That moment when you walk through that last time, looking at the place that was your home, now looking odd because it still looks familiar, but robbed, somehow. You have removed yourself from it and it no longer knows what it is, so it waits, forlorn, for the next person to come in and give it life.

So my Trek looked, leaning against the wall, stripped of its accessories. This bike represents so much in my life: I've had so many good memories of riding it - alone, with friends, to work, to New Hampshire, in pouring rain along Memorial Drive, through Somerville, Brighton, Jamaica Plain, Arlington; to the beach, to the apartments of boyfriends, carrying it upstairs, locking it in basements, buying groceries. My Trusty Trek.

I'll keep the Trek, take it out once in awhile; it is, after all, a different bike from my new one and still serves a purpose. Is it wasteful to have 2 bikes? I don't know. I do know I can't bring myself to part with my Trek. Not yet. Besides, who would I give it to? Who could love it as much? Who could understand what it holds?

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