Sunday, June 7, 2009

Doing The Rounds

They slid through the long curved streets, like silver balls over a pinball table, or rather as a single silver ball composed of two men on two separate bicycles, slim artifacts that swiftly carried them from one corner to another, from one edge to another, from one gateway to the next. The men were long and thin and white, and they were covered in tight colorful clothes that were now drenched in their sweat. Their heads were protected by small hard black helmets, their eyes were fixed on the road ahead, and their lips sometimes broke into little smiles of easy contentment. At busy intersections, where they had to wait for a few minutes for the light to change, then, and only then, would they turn to each other and make a comment, usually on the speed at which they were travelling, on the current working of the bikes and any repairs or upgrades that would soon be required, on the traffic and the weather and all other things that were beyond their control. Their long arms would then hold on tightly to the handles, while their heads were turned, always ready and waiting for the rapid movement to begin again so that their silent circular journey could continue.
They swiftly rode up and down the paved slender paths that criss-crossed the park like the patchwork web of a metallic spider, some strange monster perhaps hidden under the great parking lot that lay on the west side, by the ocean, or maybe under the busy little streets to the east. They looked around only briefly and then only to acknowledge the visions that rose around them, or to avoid an obstacle or an unsuspecting pedestrian who failed to hear them coming and didn’t step aside. The paths for them were like private channels and all the people that they might encounter here, even other cyclists, were ultimately seen as intruders in their own secluded realm. They only crossed roads when they were forced to by geography, and then they ran back into the paved paths as soon as it was possible, losing themselves in the web once again. There they could imagine the cars fading into non-existence and the noise boiling into a single soup of white and pink snow.
They rode around the lake, where the couples pedaled on their little plastic boats while looking around themselves and at each other, trying to reconcile their mutual private love with a world of cold strangers and coming up with no clear answers or even any distinct questions that could be voiced aloud. They rode to the edge of the white arboretum where the windows were dripping with the sweat of the hot life that lived inside and people walked out smiling, unsure of what they had seen. They rode to the edge of the ocean where the cars were lined up diagonally and people sat on a cement wall, staring at the endless repeating spectacle of waves, sand and horizon, trying to find hidden meaning in a short glimpse at the surface of the world. They rode under large thick trees that held the promise of longevity in their sprawling roots and branches, in the weight of their profound knowledge buried in their deep green silence. They rode up to the heights of the waterfall where a single thick cement cross stood proud, protected by wire fence that had been cut open in several places, surrounded by bottles and graffiti and paper bags and newspapers that danced calmly in the light breeze. They rode through the abandoned park buildings to the north east, where old men in sweaty layers of thick clothing sat and stared at the burning cement surface, surrounded by bushes and flowers and the singing of birds. They rode to the great open lawn in the southeast, where the young ravers and the old hippies danced to the beat of a circle of drummers, all eyes half closed in the distinctive manifestation of chemical ecstasy. They rode under tunnels drenched in urine to emerge into playgrounds drenched in laughter and screams of childish surprise. They rode past signs that said “no entrance” and “road closed” and they found that they could enter and that all paths eventually lead somewhere, even if it wasn’t where they originally meant to go. And finally they rode back into the street, past a bus stop and a no parking sign, on their way back home, when the sunlight was starting to wane and the air had begun to turn chilly.
There would then come a week of papers and bright screens and phone calls and pressure and calm grace. They would be away from each other and away from the concrete paths that formed the outline of a world of flowers and trees and grass. By the time the week was over, it would be time to do the rounds once again.

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