Portland is my favorite city in the Northwest.  I love the food, and the style, and the rain, and the consciousness.  I love the Max, and the markets, and the devotion to kickass caps, and androgynous girls. 

Over this long weekend, I envied the bike lanes, and bike racks, and the flat, wide streets, and the vegetarian food, and the bridges.  I kept thinking those final lines in Rilke’s poem:  “…For here there is no place that does not see you.  You must change your life.”

It’s a small thing, really, isn’t it?  The determination to cycle more often.  To tool around on my bike the way that I used to.  Grocery shopping, errands, commutes to the office.  To ride a bike the way a kid does.  To remember the pleasure of sunlight through the leaves, and water on the street, and the pump of my legs.

4 thoughts on “Cyclist”

  1. Well you really could have written this about me. How strange.

    Copenhagen is perhaps the most bike-friendly city in the world — you are no one here without a bike. It is simply the way we get around.

    I began my search for the perfect bike with all of the relish of ten year old. I remember how, then, a bike was the most important thing you could own.

    I found a brown VIVA classic city bike and it has become an extension of myself — as cars in the States so often are. But now it is just me and the ground. Me and hundreds of bikers in rush-hour traffic… moving slowly enough to feel the weight of our packages, the burden of the weather.

    It’s a wild kind of freedom. Just like being ten years old again, where nothing but my own beating heart got me home.

  2. This is my first experience anywhere in Europe, so I don’t have a lot to compare it to. But Copenhagen is beautiful. Wonderful Reformation churches. Vast, green parks. More bikes than cars, it seems. Lots of water.

    So far, the city has been wonderfully accessible; it’s the people who present a challenge. They are extremely polite, but somehow cold. Inscrutable. And, unfortunately, rather xenophobic. I’m in constant anxiety about the status of my residency permit.

    So, it’s a strange place. So safe, they leave their babies — in strollers — outside restaurants. But I keep hearing horror stories about the health care system, and the winter, which is fast approaching.

    We’ve lost three hours of sunlight in two months. Perhaps the Danish reticence comes from so many seasons of darkness.

  3. I look forward to hearing more stories. This is a great adventure. I haven’t lived in Europe since I was a child. My memories of that time are patchy and peculiar.

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