It is a Monday evening and the air feels far more chilled than it did a few hours earlier. I am biking from one part of Brooklyn to another toward home. Lately, my rides are filled with songs, not from stuffed-up ears playing pre-recorded tunes, but from my mouth. Sometimes I make up songs or start poems, as I glide down streets and turn corners.
Heleanore, my rusty bike, houses the weight of my body and due to its constantly stubborn lack of gear shifting, I often find myself moving slower. My speed– or lack there of– has been a cause of slight shyness when others want to ride along with me. Oftentimes, I am left behind, which is fine by me. Like dancing, I prefer to ride alone.
Here I am, with broken bike seat beneath my seat, with invisible moon haunting me lovingly behind clouds when suddenly:
“Hey, can I tell you something?” says bike rider rolling beside me in bike lane, with flashing lights in front and back, wearing spandex and helmet and sly smile.
Uh, yeah. Sure, I say with deep reluctance.
“Helmet hair is very beautiful.” Anonymous bike guy then proceeds to speed along past me, before I could respond.
Here is the thing: No, I was not wearing a helmet and although this is not required by law, I recognize that I am putting my safety at risk. Biking in New York City is a completely different experience from other places I’ve rolled over. There are bike lanes; however, cars often forget their manners in these parts.
I didn’t mind the reminder to be safe– even from a stranger. What I did mind was attributing my lack of helmet wearing to some sort of beauty regimen. I immediately thought: if I were male, would he have still approached me in this way with this particularly gendered language?
Twenty minutes later, I arrived home safely. Chained Heleanore to post near my apartment and walked up the stoop to my home. Thought about helmets and all the other ways in which I put my safety at risk. I thought about all the reasons one should protect themselves from falls and that time the concrete hit me in a way that loosened my teeth and forced nine stitches in my skin. I was not on a bike (therefore a helmet may have been awkward) but we are often reminded of the impermanence of our bodies in times such as these.
For the record, I am not worried about aforementioned helmet hair, nor am I particularly bothered about beauty or lack there of in me.
I am, however, interested in remaining in tact (now) for as long as I can.