Ride or Die

Today, I realized I know this place is becoming home. I realized it after a day of biking across Brooklyn. It started with riding across Prospect Park and down 9th Ave through Park Slope to scrappy old Red Hook. It was a cold but beautiful morning. My fellow bikers and I waved at people in cars using our bike lane as too-narrow parking spaces. Past the Gowanus Canal, I saw a worrying crowd gathering near a bodega only to discover up close that it was a crew shooting a movie.

After my meeting at the Red Hook Community Justice Center, I rode along the Gowanus Canal again and through quaint Cobble Hill (past the public sculpture of a new friend and artist) to BRIC Arts Media where I was given a walk through by the artist Miguel Luciano. His new solo exhibition is on Peurto Rico and the diaspora living in New York City. The show features altered and restored vintage Schwinn bikes from the 1950s through the 1970s. I owned one of those bikes back in the 70’s with the banana seats and sissy bars and the stick shift like gear changer. 

The title of the show is Ride or Die. The artist related riding a bike to being free - exactly how I feel when I ride. I talked Miguel into letting us honk one of his bike sculpture’s giant horns while giving tours to kids. I then rode my bike down to Dumbo for another meeting, this one at Brooklyn Arts Council with a room full of teaching artists waiting to welcome me. For one of the group building exercises we acted out a play depicting the overcoming of one’s fears. I used my bike’s red tale light as dramatic theater lighting. 

Afterwards, I stepped out into the cool darkness of Dumbo and looked at the cobble stoned streets, the swirling water of the East River, and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges arching away into the night. I lingered and counted by blessings; to be in this place, calling this city my home and knowing how to navigate its streets, making and teaching art. 

I rode my bike back up the hill, away from the water, under the BQE and into Brooklyn’s business district. I silently passed police stations, colleges letting out their night classes, and nurses walking away from long shifts. I turned left near where I attend Quaker Meeting and soon was back at the Q subway stop next to Junior’s Famous Cheese Cake. 

One the subway, I braced my bike against the pole and tried not to bother anyone’s shoes with my wheels. Back in my neighborhood, I pressed my new remote and my building’s parking garage door opened. Like batman returning to his cave, I floated on my bike down and into the black. Home.

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