May 30, 2014
When I ride my bike in the city, I realize that I am always searching for spaces of freedom. Weaving in and out of traffic is a space like that. Ironic, because the cars/pedestrians swell and swarm all around, but in between the front bumper of a bus and the taillights of a car, I find what feel like vast chasms and in those I spread myself out. I’ve been biking from Harlem to mid-town Manhattan for a few years now. Biking in a city where most people do not commute that way is liberating – it makes me feel like the life where I work in a big building at a desk in a financial firm isn’t permanent or an entrapment – just a stop along the way.
The path is great: along the parks of Harlem – St. Nicholas to Morningside Park straight into Central Park, all the way to mid-town where the dance with the taxis begins. I glide into the parking garage at the base of the 44-story building where I work on 50th and Park Avenue, where I meet some of my friends – the parking attendant guys. At the beginning, they used to greet my rougy cheeked (infused from the park air and cross-town fight) grin with a non-plussed shrug. Slowly, I warmed them up though. After a few weeks of arriving with my fresh grin, they started to grin back. Soon our daily hellos grew into longer exchanges and then they were my friends. They watched my belly grow twice (I kept riding in pregnant up to a certain point) and glowed congratulations when they saw me back on the bike when I returned a few months later.
About a year ago, though, I had a run in with one of them. I was walking my bike in the garage amidst the BMWs, Porsches and Mercedes back to the tiny bike cove and one guy was backing up a large SUV in my path. I kept walking because although he seemed pressed, there was enough room for me to weave around him and another car. He contorted out the window and screamed at me, telling me this was no place for bikes and I better stop walking in the way of the cars they need to park. I was probably a bit sensitive because I was just newly pregnant, but I immediately choked on a sob and continued crying as I left the garage. I didn’t realize the other attendants had witnessed this until yesterday morning (a full year later) when a Jaguar pulled up next to me as I was going to park my bike in the cove. One of the attendants smiled up at me and proclaimed, “Bully’s gone!”, belted out a big laugh with a thumbs up sign and zoomed down the lane of the garage in front of me.