⪧ We left our life in New York City to make a new one in Provence ⪦

November 11, 2009

Relay.

Midnight. I start outside the southern perimeter - the edge/maker of Paris: the péripherique. Over the bridge - the cars swarm below. Then the city swallows me. Light flooding everywhere heedless of the time. Soft, yellow light, reflecting off the stone surfaces of the buildings. I ride and I ride.

It is always a race and I usually win, even at this time with the clear roads; the stop lights give me the advantage. The cars sit and idle, puttering their impatience. I fly past - the red is only meant for them. Some of the lights are necessary - big intersections where the traffic flows heavy, forming a barrier in front of me. Here, the white lines of the pedestrian crossing become a starting line and even at midnight there are many competitors. Most of us are on the communal bikes, the vélibs. Others, the top competitors, sport their own bikes and often ride with their hands in their pockets and their heads higher in the air, like the streets are somehow more theirs than ours with our borrowed wheels and bulky frames.


(googlemaps)

Then we are off, across Pont Michel. Notre Dame is hovering bright in the night to the right. Down Boulevard du Palais and breaking free again on Pont au Change. Paris sprawls out and extends in both directions here, splayed along the water. The buildings lean over to gaze in the water. And I am ahead because I am a Johnson and competition is thrilling and it pushes me and the French boys regard me with disdain. I can feel their gazes and hear their heavy breath behind me in a desperate attempt to pedal ahead of this irreverent girl who cut them off, swerves in between the cars and rides in a skirt.

All about us cars are rushing by - like swimming in the ocean facing the shore and the rhythm of the water is faster than your body - they flow by unaware that they share the road with those of us who pedal our way. The buses are more aware because they have to be; we share their lane. Buses are like the wild things who gnash their terrible teeth and roar their terrible roars, and I am Max on my bike. I tame them and they sound their bell - the bell that sounds like a charm - and they ride with me and then I send them off on their way. They don't frighten me.

The other bikers are on my tail and I have to stop in front of Tour St. Jacques for the flow in front of me. They pull up and we look at each other in the eyes - a direct challenge. I watch the light and take off before the green has appeared - in the gap between the red and the green and I surge ahead feeling very spry.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why this reminds me of your post " Feminism "

Malanie said...

Thank you for the descriptive stoy of your fun bike ride.

Brad said...

Great post. Don't let those young French boys beat you!

Jill said...

You Emilie are the bravest person I know!

D1Warbler said...

Great prose. Keep up the good work!

Interesting, that birds eye view of Paris and the Seine reminds me of Pittsburgh (the city of bridges and the Paris of the Midwest).

I didn't realize why people called it that until I saw that google photo.

Emilie said...

interesting indeed Chrys...

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