A lot of times we’d stop for our cousin Susan on the way. Five kids squeezed into the cab of a dirty farm pickup. Chris and I were usually sitting on laps, and I remember having the radio controls inches from my face. How I wanted to change the station from Power 99! Straying from our parents’ beloved oldies radio was forbidden. Today I wonder if all those songs about falling in love with pretty girls would feel as childish if they weren’t the soundtrack of my childhood.
We’d spend a lot of the evening riding through the cemetery. Dad loves cemeteries. He tells us stories of local tragedies and people long dead, from the old country.
It was a special treat if our grandparents were sitting on their porch when we rode by. They’d wave, and we’d wave back excitedly, knowing that we’d finish the night there with cookies and Kool-Aid.
When riding through town, we’d take up the whole street. Crossing Brown Ave (the main drag), was the only time we felt any “I hope I don’t get hit by a car” anxiety.
This is all to say, riding bikes in town once a summer did nothing to prepare me for actually riding a bike on a real street in a town larger than three thousand people.
My attempts at riding in Tempe, Lincoln, and Princeton were not that successful. It wasn’t fun, and I was unsure of the rules and where I belonged.
When Teddy, Thom, and Phoebe were little, Kate and I concluded that completing a task efficiently was no longer a priority. “You’ve got to do something to get through the day!” we’d say to each other.
It didn’t matter that walking to town took much longer than driving or biking. When you have little kids, and you’re with them all the time, your task becomes filling the day. You make your outings last as long as possible. It’s the opposite of normal adults, rushing from place to place, squeezing in as many errands during their lunch hour.
My kids are now older, and they all go to school each morning. I’ve become a normal adult, feeling the need to get to everywhere in a hurry.
I ride a bike.
Freiburg is extremely bike-friendly. They’re everywhere. Bikes ride with traffic alongside the trams and are treated with respect as a moving vehicle. I thought I wouldn’t feel comfortable, but I do.
I enjoy riding a bike here. My favorite is riding home from the gym, in the dark, listening to music. Last night I was feeling so free, jamming to Selena Gomez, that I did two things I usually would never do.
- I spit out my gum on the street. It had lost its flavor and without a thought, I propelled it out of my mouth while I was cruising along--no where near a trash receptacle.
- I ran a red light. Unintentionally. Then, I didn’t feel bad about it.
It seems riding a bike around Freiburg is my Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde formula.
Hausfrau on foot, but, on two wheels, rebel without a cause.