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Going the Distance
May 19th, 2012 by alexfaye

Rode my bike to school again today — it’s 17.6 miles, round trip — and experienced the same thing I did the other day, my first day: disbelief. At the beginning of the ride, the whole idea seems preposterous, and I start thinking of bail out options, just in case.

The trip can be broken down into chunks; each little leg of the trip is its own small journey. And as I ride, through the neighborhood, and then across big busy Katella, back behind Maddy’s old middle school, over the little footbridge behind the big athletic fields behind Oak, with the 605 freeway just beyond, then south to the beach, over a suspension bridge that dumps me onto the San Gabriel River Bike Path, and then up that long path to South Street, I have nothing but time to think and listen to whatever is burbling up within me. My mind begins to bore me, that yakkity yak Lucy Ricardo stuff, and I want to be at my destination – but at this point, I still have a long way to go. So I have to break into another mind, or go bonkers, watching the tiny hamster run the hamster wheel.

I see that persistence and patience are key. That the end gets here faster than we expect. Alex, the end gets here faster than we expect. Are you getting this down? The end. Gets here. Faster.

The first place I come to that means I am really out of the neighborhood is El Dorado Park. This used to feel like a big fucking deal, but it’s so easy now that I don’t even think it’s all that noteworthy. I drive by it with aplomb. And sure enough, I see people down on the sidewalk with their bikes, sort of cruising along, and little kids wobbling on training wheels, and double-seater strollers with some beleagured mom or dad pushing it along, sometimes walking, sometimes running, sometimes the kids asleep, and sometimes, no kids at all in the stroller. What is that about? That reminds me of Wenzel, pushing the stroller at the AIDS Walk in Hollywood back in 1989, while I walked beside him, carrying Her Highness Miss Madeline the Baby Who Prefers to Go Everywhere Carried by Her Mother, and Wenzel said, “Pushing this empty stoller feels like I’m making a political statement.”

The next part, El Dorado Park, Part 2: I pass by this part of the park with a little sense of longing. I like riding around in there because it is still mysterious to me in many ways, and I remember this is where I got my very first impression of Long Beach, driving up from San Diego to meet my parents who were at a picnic hosted by my dad’s new job at Terminal Island, and my dad got drunk and my mom got mad because my dad appeared to be flirting with some cheesy Filipino woman who was actually throwing her legs around, and gee whiz, it was just like being in high school again, feeling trapped with two drunk people and all kinds of sublimated violence and emotion, and a slight subtext of sexual infidelity. Yay! This is where I meet my friend Erich. He enters the bike path at Wardlow, which is called Ball Road in Cypress, where he lives. I am SO glad I don’t live on Ball Road. I don’t want to live on any street that makes me think of testicles: Ball Road, Nutwood, Gonad Way, Wrinkly Sack Street. This part of the park is still surprising to me, and every Mexican picnic seems to have its own little cadre of Mariachis. And I once confronted an entire pack of geese and ducks that looked like they should have had been wearing little leather jackets, with switchblade knives tucked inside their boots. Except they weren’t wearing boots, but you know what I mean. They stood in the road and stared me down, like Greasers.

The next big street to pass is Carson, and you know you’re there because there’s the big goddamn WalMart, and what is there to say about that, except you can get stuff there very cheap, but I feel it’s necessary to don a simple disguise before entering, lest anyone recognize me, and then upon returning home with sacks of cheap goods, sit down and write a check to some nonprofit working with the indigent. Today as I passed by, I heard something like gunfire. I glanced down at my watch, 10:05, and said to myself, check the internet later, because somebody is getting gunned down there in the Walmart parking lot.

This is what happens when I pass the equestrian center. To get up over that hump beyond Carson Street, I have to climb a brief but steep hill, so I have to ramp it up, stand up in the pedals, so when I hit the top, I am breathing hard, but I’m immediately confronted by the problem of horse shit. And I think of this fact: the little molecules that I am breathing that are giving me the message, “horse shit,” were recently up in some horse’s ass. And I don’t like that idea, so I try to hold my breath, but I’m already out of breath because of that dang little hill, and obviously I have to breathe, so I breathe shallowly and pedal faster, to get beyond the equestrian center faster, and as I start to get dizzy, I think, gosh, this reminds me a lot of teaching.

The Del Amo tunnel comes next, and the whole idea of going down into a tunnel at a pretty good clip without being to see what is INSIDE the tunnel first makes me nervous. Are you thinking “Freud”? Well, stop.

OK I hit my word count, so it’s time to get in the shower, and get to the bar where all of my friends are. Hurry up! It’s past 9 already. And I’m at 997 words, come on! Who needs that many words? Three more: 1000!


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