August 3, 2017.
Summer night. Cool for Chicago. Not humid. Dry and warm. At our friend’s fortieth birthday party. Their new apartment in a three flat in Lincoln Square. The rooms inside have become to hot. Too close. With people and trapped air.
Outside. On the back porch of the building. Wooden steps and landings. The air is much cooler. Open. Night is not yet total. A faint glow in the sky but dark here in the back yard beneath trees. The alley. Our son chases after distant lightning bugs. Here. Then there. Existing for a second in one place. Reappearing somewhere else.
An artist. A friend of our now forty year old friend. Is patient. Walks with our son in the grass. Pointing out the lightning bugs. How they move. Moving from the alley towards the grass along the fence then into the clump of trees inside the yard. They walk from spot to spot. Our son runs. Still a whirl of energy.
We linger by the stairs. In the light of the porch.
Three hippies smoke herbs on the landing above us. An assortment of floral herbs grown in their yards and planters.
It is nine pm.
I was on my bike early on Monday morning. 7.30. The sun in the sky. Hot. Already 83 degrees out. The downtown Chicago skyline obscured by haze. Only the barest outlines of shapes visible. Sweat on my forehead. My t-shirt. My arms. My neck. Riding on Elston. My favorite street in Chicago. Wide. Two lanes for cars and bike lanes as well. It’s a diagonal street heading SE/NW to or from downtown. Only a few traffic lights to stop for. Ten minutes out, I noticed my left foot wobbling a little on the pedal. It seemed weird. I thought maybe my shoe was catching on part of the pedal or crank or something. After a few more pedals and a hundred yards or so the crank with pedal still attached to it shot out into the street. Continue reading “adventures in biking summer 2010”
this is a shorty outtake from flotation device 12. i eventually took it out cuz i felt it didn’t add anything. and i didn’t want to contribute to the glut of zines that feature bike riding in them. and anyways, i’ve prolly already made my fair share of contributions to that glut anyways. on the bike riding note – i am looking forward to warm night bike rides again. tonight was one of the first of the year. so i’m especially stoked now!
One of my favorite things in the summer is to ride my bike late at night. Alone on the street only a few cars passing occasionally. Cool air. Sometimes heavy with humidity. But always cool and caressing after the heat of the day. The buildings pass by lazy. Trees that line the roads. Dark branches against dark night sky. Leaves green rustle whisper in the night breeze. Coming home from wherever I was. A show. A movie. A friend’s house. A diner. A bar. The city quiet for the night. Slowed down. Feeling like a hometown. A comfort zone. A pocket of safe from the world. Float and glide on rubber tires past mail boxes and street lights stoplights intersections. Cool air on my skin through my t shirt through my hair. My city. My town. My home. Trees overhead. Stars through the leaves and branches.
this was a little coda that originally followed the treefort (slight return) section of flotation device 12. when i first wrote it, it seemed logical to include it. it flowed with the rest of that junior high section, but when i read it once all of the pieces were put in order, it seemed to kinda just sit there.
We had a brilliant idea too. David and I or Luke and I or all of us. On the west side of the subdivision beyond the pond and on the other side of all the fences beyond the last recently sodded lawns of the new houses there was a field. A cornfield old and unused derelict and filled with dead cornstalks and grass. In our explorations seeking out new places to explore and new places to walk we came across a cement platform. It must have been the floor to a storage shed. We said it was an old barn. It was divided into a few different levels and the cement was fairly smooth in some spots.
As we sat out there under the summer sun blue sky and white clouds hoping that the men in the pick up trucks that seemed to occasionally patrol the fields didn’t come, we had a brilliant thought. Let’s turn this into a skate park. We could build a half pipe out here and some mini ramps. We could use the multi levels for a kick ass street area. It’s out of the way and no one would bother us. Genius.
Jeremy could help. His dad had built an amazingly professional quarter pipe that they kept in his garage. It was on wheels and they would wheel it out to skate it in the driveway. It terrified me with its perfect curvature smooth wood and vert at the top and its five foot height. Jeremy could help us. Luke could help us, having built that half pipe in his basement. He also helped me build a launch ramp that we kept in my garage that had a nice curve that Luke got from wetting the wood with a hose and bending the wood back while standing on it. We could get wood and nails and pvc coping from the dumpsters. That’s where we always went for supplies for treeforts or bike ramps skate ramps or whatever we were building. Often the dumpster raids also included clandestine exploration of the skeletal frames of houses after hours when the workers had left for the day. Climbing in through the sunken basement windows. Climbing up the skeletal stairs. Walking through skeletal walls. Climbing on skeletal beams. And carefully walking over skeletal floors.
We could do it. We could build our own private skate park out here in this field. Sun pouring down. Browned yellowed dead corn stalks. Blue blue sky. Possibility in the air. Dreams dreamed. A shared fantasy. The sound of skateboard wheels on cement on wood in our minds. We could do it. But we didn’t.
this is an outtake from flotation device 12. it just never fit in anywhere once i started putting everything in order. i wrote it in the summer of 2007.
The smell of gasoline through the windows the other day. Sun bright glaring and someone mowing the little lawn next door. It had such a huge sound like the mower that we had when I was a kid. The big green beast that I had to use all of my twelve year old body to push and maneuver sweating grass stuck all around my shins and ankles. Shoes stained green gasoline filling my nose wishing I were done the sun baking me. Why did I wait til the afternoon to do this? All the other subdivision houses with their uniform manicured lawns constant water and upkeep. Energy and effort. Squandered resources. The trees behind our house the big old trees that had been there for so long before all of our houses. Pushing the mower up one way and then back down slowly cutting away at the week long grass. Thinking that it would be awesome to have a yard that had super tall grass. Prairie grass. A little nature preserve with paths to walk through the bright sun glaring off the cul de sac in the front. The neighborhood kids playing hockey in the street or tag or basketball or wiffleball or riding bikes or running around or through sprinkler or anything other than mowing the lawn and me wishing that I were doing anything else.
Growing up moving the lawn summer after summer. Mowing other people’s lawns for ten bucks an hour. Eventually rocking a walkman with mix tapes cranking in my ears over the roar of the engine and the grass blowing all over and swaths being cut row after row and it was great music that made me feel so cool and so good and so energized and amazed that music could be so good.
And the sun tanning my arms and my face. I used to not wear a shirt and imitate my dad mowing the lawn but i grew up and started thinking about girls and got shy and I put my shirt back on thinking about the girls I had developed crushes on during the school year and tuning out the lawnmower daydreaming about girls and being anywhere other than mowing the lawn in the ninety degree afternoon sun.
Always looking for an excuse not to do it.
It all came back to me the other morning when i was making breakfast – a bagel some cereal some water – in the kitchen. The roar of the engine the raw gasoline smell and all I could think of was the sun shining through the branches and leaves of the trees overhead while I mowed the lawn. Will kids still mow the lawn? Do they now? Will we mow our lawns when there’s no more gas? No more power? Will kids still daydream while doing menial household tasks staining their socks green with fresh cut grass?