I bought a bicycle last week. It’s a beautiful and inexpensive 1950’s single speed replica, but it’s all I need.
I live near Lake Ontario, and I wanted to take advantage of the lakeshore bike routes this summer, though I’m terrified of riding through the city. I haven’t cycled since I was 14, but for some unknown reason, I wanted to ride again.
I bought it up in the small suburb where my in-laws live, and after replacing the back tire, I took it for a spin around the block. I nervously thought of all the things cyclists should remember. Balance, hand signals, feet, braking. I wobbled a bit at first, stopping to adjust the seat so my legs could pedal properly without my knees coming up over my hips. That finished, I rode my bike, stabilizing and sitting upright while pushing through the streets.
If I closed my eyes (which I don’t recommend while cycling) I was 10 again. My parents gave me permission to ride my bike by myself around the big block. We used to cycle it as a family. Mom with my brother on the kiddie seat behind her, me, and dad behind us. But today, I rode it by myself. Not even with friends. It doesn’t seem like much, but that 1.2 km route was freedom for 15 minutes. I stuck to the sidewalks, and made sure I waved at my parents as I rode by, ready to go again.
Fast forward 20+ years, and I’m riding around a similar suburban block, a grin on my face as I try to see if I can take both hands off the wheel. Even my burning thighs and the bugs hitting my face can’t knock off my smile. I race and ride on the road, passing one gentleman going the opposite direction in the loop several times. Despite my aching legs, I push harder, the wind blowing through my hair as I experience a joy I haven’t had in years.
I’m writing poetry again. I tried the April PAD Challenge just to keep blogging for a bit. I failed at the challenge itself, but it reignited something in me.
At 14, I remember putting my hand to pen and paper, and writing out my feelings for the first time. Different from journaling, I wrote words that just appeared in my head as if spoken aloud. I can still recite those same words perfectly today, they were so clear to me at the time.
Time is an everlasting disease
pushing them further and further from reality.
I laugh at those words now, a 14-year-old girl’s attempt to sound grown-up in the way she expressed herself. I think the sentiment is still decent, though over-dramatized. I remember reading my first three poems to my parents and seeing them nod silently, unsure what to make of their daughter’s sudden melodramatic bent. They encouraged me, however, and until my 20s, I found freedom of expression. I lost it doing required course work at university.
Since the PAD challenge, I’ve written a poem almost every Wednesday from the Poetic Asides prompts, some of which I’ve enjoyed, and some others have enjoyed. I’m writing the poems, pursuing the language in a way I never thought of in my youth, putting them out there for others to read, but I’m experimenting for me. I’m playing with language, rhythm, onomatopoeia, and I’ve found freedom in writing for myself again. I’m rediscovering my voice.
In my fiction, I’m going back to my first love.
It’s not a love story, it’s a trick I used when I started writing my thesis in 2005. I picked a topic I was passionate about, and every time I found myself stuck, or wondering what I was doing, I remembered the reason I picked the topic in the first place. That was all the motivation I needed to design the best project, and write the best thesis I could over my two years in the program.
In my fiction, it’s the initial ideas, the “what if” questions that triggered a whole story outlined, drafted once, and soon rewritten.
In architecture, it’s the “aha!” moment, when the “what if” with the client’s program becomes something I can’t wait to share, and work out in detail.
Whether architectural or written, I’m remembering that moment where I fall in love with a project. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it feels like magic, and it keeps me going.
What are you remembering?
Is there something that makes you feel the joy of childhood? What was it? Have you found your voice, your freedom of expression? How did you discover your inner voice? Do you remember your first love, what drew you to your current project?