07 June 2014

A Guest? Or An Alien?

Perhaps you’ve noticed them:  the bikes parked on your block, at your workplace, in front of your favorite bookstore or café, or by any other building or structure that’s part of your everyday environment. They’re there for a couple of days, a week, a month or two, or longer.  Then they’re gone.

They can be any kind of bike, from a Columbia pulled out of a trash heap to a Campagnolo-equipped Colnago, a fixie or a downhill bomber, a classic three-speed or vintage ten-speed.
They’re there, then they’re gone.  Where do they—and, more important, their riders—come from?  Where do they go?  Why are they parked to the parking meters, signposts or fences where you see them?

At different times in my life, one of those bikes has been mine.  I’ve parked in front of campus buildings where I took classes for a few weeks, a few months.  I’ve locked my bike near office buildings where I took workshops or seminars, or worked temporary jobs.  I’ve left my bike chained in front of houses or apartment buildings where I tutored young people who were having difficulties pronouncing Spanish sounds, conjugating French verbs, following the currents of history or constructing a sentence—or simply passing some test or another.  And I’ve had to secure my bike to whatever immobile objects stood around court and precinct houses, sports areanae or performance spaces when I was writing some story or another for a newspaper.

And then, of course, there were the times I parked a couple of times a week, or every day or every night, for a week, a few months, or even a year or two in front of the house or apartment building of someone with whom I had a relationship—or simply some sort of recurring business or errand.

I wonder whether the bike in the photo has a story like any of the ones I’ve mentioned.  I saw it every day for a couple of weeks, then it was gone.  The last time I saw it, I didn’t notice any scratches or marks that weren’t there the first time I saw it.  That’s especially interesting, perhaps even a little disturbing, on such a stark white bike.

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