August 26, 2011

Slowing Down & Singing with Marvin Gaye.

Let’s Get it On is Better than a Bike Bell.

My project, 25 Days, is going to take me to 15 cities across the U.S. this year. Right now I am in my second city, San Francisco. I will be doing yoga and riding my bike in each city. I will report to you on my adventures and misdemeanors here.

I have been in San Francisco for approximately three weeks. On my first day in town, I rented a bike from Blazing Saddles. It is your typical rental bike, built for comfort, not for speed, as Willie Dixon once wrote. It has been a wonderful thing to get to know San Francisco by bike. The drivers are for the most part very aware of cyclists and very accommodating of their needs and misdeeds, such as accidentally riding up Van Ness in rush hour traffic as I did the other day. The great thing about this bike is that there is literally no way to go fast. Because of this, I have seen more than I would have at the quick pace I normally go, and I have started to notice that my whole experience has slowed a bit.

Yesterday, I took it upon myself to travel to Stinson Beach from San Francisco on my rental bike. I was going there to couch surf on a friend of a friend’s couch. It was a challenge as I get lost quite a bit. It took me roughly an hour to find and reach the Golden Gate bridge from the Twin Peaks area.  At most, it should have taken roughly 20 to 25 minutes. As I scanned the bay, looking for the bridge, Led Zeppelin came to mind (“Where’s that confounded bridge?”).

It's a pretty big bridge.

When I finally reached the bridge, being a Saturday it was jammed with tons of people on bikes and foot, stopping to take pictures and the like. I used my bike bell, but nobody seemed to notice. It was at this point I started singing “Let’s Get it on” by Marvin Gaye at the top of my lungs whenever I approached a throng of people on the bridge. I have no real idea why I picked this particular song, but it popped into my head, so I went with it. This did the trick nicely, though for the most part I think the people got out of the way because they were frightened of the crazy lady with the polka-dot bike helmet.

After I got off the bridge, I started the ride into Marin City to catch the stage coach, (a bus, actually), to Stinson Beach. This in itself was quite the undertaking as I kept assuming I was lost and stopped to check my map, the directions someone had given me and my messages to see if my friend who lives in San Francisco had called me back to tell me where I was every half hour or so. Then, I overshot the turn I was supposed to make to Marin City and rode roughly two and a half miles down the road, thinking the whole time I was on the right track. The secret to being lost is that you are only truly lost when you least suspect it.

After I made my way back to Marin City, I approached the appointed bus stop and heard exuberantly joyful singing. From the sound of it, there was some type of revival meetin’ happening at the park across the street from the bus stop, and for roughly a half hour, I stood there wondering what to do as I listened to a woman sing about Jesus and all facets of savior-hood. I considered the irony of being “lost” and “found” as I listened to the music and as I looked around, I discovered a public library right behind the bus stop I was waiting at. I took it as a sign. I went inside to explore, pee and generally bide my time on Facebook until the next bus came.

Six hours after I had left the house in San Francisco, I made it to Stinson Beach. Like the ground you kiss after a bumpy flight through the air above the Himalayas, Stinson Beach felt surprisingly solid beneath my feet. As I made my way on my bike through the tourist-crowded street I felt my whole body relax.

It had been a very long day. I was sunburnt, hungry and tired, but I felt so good. There is something that has shifted in me. I have started accepting the fact that it is okay to not know where I am or what I am doing. Now that I have given myself permission to be flawed, I spend very little time beating myself up over it. No matter how far I go out of my way, I feel like it is where I am supposed to be. That, and knowing I can pullout Marvin Gaye whenever I need him, is comfort enough.

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