.

 

Chinatown and Back

The parade! The perspective! The joy!

It is mostly uphill from my apartment to the Brooklyn Bridge, a steady rise punctuated by a few downward slopes. And so, pedaling hard, I crested the Brooklyn Bridge laden with sweat, full of anticipation for next few downhill minutes, and ran into 10,000 people, all holding red balloons, thronging the bridge. The balloons were lit from within by blinking lights.

They were marching against AIDS. They wore shirts proclaiming their corporate allegiances: J.P. Morgan, Polo, a variety of banks. “I'm marching for Adam,” said one sticker on a chest, and right next to that, someone was marching for Steve. I shook my head.

The marchers made the bridge unpassable, so instead of my steady accelerating descent into raw autolocomotive delight, which would have delivered me and my bicycle into Manhattan like an air kiss from Brooklyn, I got off the bike and pushed like a kayaker against rapids of human beings, yelling at the marchers to let me through, and hearing them repeat, infinitely, this archetypal cleverness: “bad time for a bike ride.”

“If you put the money you spent on blinking balloons and self-congratulating T-shirts into basic care you could have saved 100 lives,” I said, but no one was paying attention. They'd raised more for AIDS than I have, so I cursed my own crabbiness, ignored the japes of the marchers, and made it finally to my friend's place on Orchard St.

There we talked about triple stores. My friend's triple store is perhaps the most beautiful, the most gorgeous of all the triple stores, and it will be the foundation for the next iteration of Ftrain, and will take away many of the burdens that my ad-hoc triple processing has placed upon me. It is open-sourced, and the arcs are typed, and it is fast. The code considers the position of the disk drive head, and caches liberally. I tell you these things so that you might come to love it as I am coming to love it.

My friend's wife came home. She teaches sex ed at a Manhattan college, which is always good for a story. Someone had mis-labeled the perineum on their test, and the penis cross-section looked like someone had gone at the beast with a cheese grater. This was fun to discuss.

I read the answers to some essay questions, and concluded that the erotic lives of 18 year olds are less exciting than my fuckmeapony@yahoo.com correspondent would have me believe. I felt bad about laughing at the students, but not that bad, and I forgave myself with a quick and efficient self-dispensation perfected by a lifetime's commitment to self-indulgence. Then it was time to go.

Helmet on, I mounted the large comfortable seat of my bike, and found my way to the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge, then huffed to the highest point of the walkway. The Manhattan Bridge walkway opened not long ago, and is fenced on both sides. At night it is mostly empty; I saw only 4 people over the course of its span. So when I crested its empty upward curve and began to let gravity pull me home, I saw only fencing in front of me, chain-link to the vanishing point, and then as I picked up speed I was flying, barnstorming over the East River in a zone of pure geometry, 25 miles an hour with the Q train rumbling past in the other direction.

Then up to the pivot around Court & President street, and then downhill all the way, sailing through green lights, all the shutters down in front of the doctors offices, restaurants, bookstores, routing around stopped taxies loosing drunks from their yellow doors. I made a wild turn in front of my house, cruising down the middle of the street, then turned suddenly and bumped the curb in front of the black door of my building, where I dismounted and unbuckled my helmet, the straps of which I have modified with paper clips so that they might accommodate the enormity of my head. Then I let out a great breath.

I wrestled the bike up the narrow stairs, trying not to scuff the scuffed white walls further, and chained it to the bannister. A sudden wave of sleepiness cut through the bliss and energy I'd collected from the city during the ride. So with a tired hand I turned the key, and entered the messy apartment, 10 miles, two boroughs, and two bridges under my feet.

I drank a great glass of water. Tomorrow I start over, and my travels will be in the past. But right now, while I am here in the apartment, I also ride towards the fenced-in vanishing point of the Manhattan Bridge, the traffic moving beside me with engines pistoning, the sound of my quick-moving bike's agitated ball bearings not quite drowned out by the wind past my ears. Now I go to bed. But I had to tell you about it first.

1
The Smile
Monday, October 20, 2003
2
Easy Way Out
Elliott Smith, and stories about music, and false connections.
Thursday, October 23, 2003
3
DVD Player
Buying a thing, and what it gets me.
Monday, October 27, 2003
4
Pulling back teeth

Notes on a big happy smile.
Monday, October 31, 2005


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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