10 October 2016

Fall, And What I Needed

Some have called last night's debate "depressing".  

I was too much in shock to be depressed.  The last time I felt that way about an event in which I was not personally involved was on 11 September 2001. 

Like many other people here in New York, I was stunned for days, for weeks, afterward.  Then came grief, a sense of loss:  Even though I didn't lose anyone I knew in the events of that day, I felt a sense of loss.  When a complete stranger cried on my shoulder, I held her until she got off the bus we were riding.  We didn't speak and I never saw her again. Each of us understood, I believe, and gave each other what we needed in that moment.  

I had not thought about that encounter in years, until now.  Some have seen that time as a kind of Fall, when this country lost its collective innocence.  The days and weeks that followed--which, as I recall, were unusually warm for the time of year--did not feel autumnal.  

The holidays, like the days that preceded and followed them, passed through a kind of gray storm in which needles of ice rained down even on the clearest of days.  Those first glacial spears stung; the ones that followed stunned; after that, I was too numb to feel the rest, for a long time.

There may have been a Fall that year.  But the season that followed did not feel Autumnal:  that October and November felt just like the following January and February, in no small part because those months were--up to that time--the warmest winter months this city had experienced.

Today, in contrast, felt exactly the way some of us might have, at some time in our lives, expected a day from this time of year to feel.  Today began overcast but turned, rather quickly, into an afternoon with a blue sky lit by intense sunlight that hinted at the sunset that would tinge the horizon a few hours later.  The morning's chill had, by that time, turned into a nip.

In other words, it felt like the Fall day it is.  It was that day when one realizes that the season is well underway:  It's no longer possible to say that summer has just passed, but winter, though everyone knows it will come, does not yet seem imminent.  

Fewer cars and taxis and buses plied the street on which I live, or the avenue around the corner or the other streets that branched from it, than one sees on a typical Monday.  The reason, of course, is that today is a holiday (as I like to say, for a guy who got lost):  the one that always seems, to me, the one that signals that it is indeed Fall.

On this holiday last year, I was in Montreal, where--ironically--it was warmer, more like a September day here in New York and the leaves of the iconic maple trees that line the city's streets blazed in the sun.  Montrealers, like other Canadians, don't celebrate Columbus Day.  Rather, the second Monday of October is, for them, Thanksgiving Day.   I certainly was thankful for having such a wonderful day to ride and interesting places to explore.  

I had those things, today, too.  So of course I went for a ride.  I didn't plan anything, not even which of my bikes I rode.  As it turned out, I took Tosca, my fixed gear Mercian, for a spin.  Perhaps I chose her because, somehow, I knew--my body knew--that I needed to keep my feet spinning.  But I was not riding for escape:  In fact, it was quite the opposite.  

Where did I go?  I know I pedaled through various parts of Brooklyn and Queens; I think I even popped into Nassau County, briefly, and back again into the borough I now call home, into the one I called home The Day The Towers Fell, and back home.

That ride gave me exactly what I needed, for I did what I needed to do.  And I am satisfied now.

(Note:  I didn't take any photos during my ride.  The image you see was made by Matt Hyde.)


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