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Season Opener

April 26, 2009

Yesterday, I picked up my bicycle, tuned up and ready to ride. For three years, I’ve used the same mechanic–I was reluctantly charmed on my first visit as he looked me up and down, looked my bicycle up and down, then asked, “So, what’s its name?” I was indignant, this man smirking like I was easily read, that my bike must have some cutesy name. Then, I admitted he’d clocked me at fifty paces. “Jeffrey,” I sniffed. “My bike is called Jeffrey. And, he needs a tune-up.”

I fell last October, rear wheel lodged in the streetcar tracks as I whipped around late-late with a girlfriend. Sprawled on the pavement, I was grateful for the hour (no traffic), the weather (gloves, jeans, boots, rather than bare knees arms palms), the flask in my handbag (where it had remained till that moment; no, I was not riding half-crocked!). It wasn’t my first spill, but it made me nervous, so I stowed my bike for winter, forgetting the accident and the convenience of zipping from place to place. Last week while the sun shone hot, my patience for public transit waned and the time was right. My mechanic aligned this and and that, made things just so, even threw in a headlight to replace the one that smashed when I fell.

And…I realised that despite a long, fraught winter, I am in excellent shape! No leg cramps, no broken ass, no gasping like a fish as I struggle uphill. Amazing. Typically, cycling season is the report card after a winter of indulgence–the first spring commute exposes me as the kid who talked in class, skipped homework and threw crayons at recess. Each kilometre, my thighs and calves cry for mercy, my bum kills from the seat which, while cute and retro, is all kinds of uncomfy, and my lung capacity is roughly a teaspoon.

After my October spill, I parked my bicycle and uncorked an ocean of wine. November was a landslide of oysters, grilled cheese, extravagant dinners, late nights and mornings that began mid-afternoon. In December, old-old friends threw a party, where Alex and I flaunted our recent growth (girth?) spurts and noted that we cut more formidable profiles than when we firs tmet in grade eleven. We laughed, lamented the loss of our figures, which were much more svelte when we met at 16. We tinkled ice in our glasses, jammed our hands into shrunken pockets. Joked that it’s fine that his inseam had grown a little snug–this implied a little something extra hung behind the drapes. In contrast, my belly sausaged into a wee velour skirt? Not so hot.

Next came the holidays, then deeper winter and, instead of slouching through a season of too-rich meals, too-hectic days, and too-too much, I spun a private cocoon. Stretched. Read. Laid low. Cleaned house. Rotated heavy recipes to the back shelf and hauled out lighter standards that once dominated my kitchen. Wrote then wrote more. Rose early to start my day over Common lattés instead of dashing from bed to office. Turned off the radio; turned off the television. Adopted a yoga routine so strenuous I feared I’d need the ambulance to come help me button my blouse. This, in fact, paid off last week when I realised at 35, I can lie on my belly, arch my legs over my shoulders and touch my toes to my nose.

Last week, I cycled home in a pretty skirt, red heels, kneesocks, scarf. Hair blowing in the breeze, sun shining on my cheeks, feeling like I was smiling in private even though I was out in public. And, I realised how light I’ve grown. It was fucking hell to let go of love when the city was buried in snow. But, like winter fat, that love was making us sluggish, weighing us down, drooping our cheeks and spilling over our belts. It was thickening the blood that pumped through our hearts. We lost endless days to sleeping it off, our homes littered with traces of “everything about this is broken and wrong.”

Of course, that love will stick around like a tissue memory, like a repetitive movement, like the shadow Wendy stitches onto Peter Pan. A shadow that stretches like when the sun’s setting behind you and the sidewalk gets swallowed by your block-shaped shoes and gigantic head. It’s tough to end this little piece without stumbling into some stupid metaphor about spring flowers, fat plops of fresh rain, or shifting seasons giving way to new things. And, those words just aren’t me. And, so, I will declare bicycle season open, and leave it at that.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Carrie permalink
    April 27, 2009 4:29 pm

    So are you telling me that i’ll need heartbreak to lose my belly?

    Seriously, thanks for the bike hurrah! Today I need to get on mine. Maybe a ride before dinner…

  2. Amanda permalink
    April 27, 2009 8:47 pm

    I think it depends whether you had a belly before you fell in love, or developed one after…as for me and my former man, neither of us was portly till we spent a few years together…et voila, big fat bellies all around!

  3. Becca permalink
    May 22, 2009 7:47 pm

    Isn’t the breakup diet the best?

    By the way, I cannot believe that you can do that crazy yoga pose. So jealous over here.

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