Sunday, June 14, 2009


When I was ten years old, on Christmas day I woke up to the best Christmas gift of my entire life. As soon as I opened my eyes, there was the nicest bike, right in my room! From then on, I would spend my days after school riding around Barcelona, that's how I remember my childhood, racing my buddies, going places too far for my parent's comfort, I would head out there, just myself and the bike, and I would savor the day, feel the hot breeze of the Venezuelan East Side, I would stay in the sidewalk the whole time, but the rides could always be dangerous, there's no such thing as a pedestrian right of way down there, and I almost got hit many times, but I learned to be careful, to be alert on the road. When you are riding a bike it's the exact opposite of patrolling in the infantry, the key is to be seen. So I would make sure that I was in nobody's blind spot.

I liked to ride so much because it gave me time to think about stuff, I would ponder upon the things that seemed so important back then, plans for the future, questions about life, about school, friends, later about girls that I never had the courage to speak to. I remember the last time I rode the bike in my town, I knew I was about to come to the United States and I was conscious of the fact that this would be the last time I would see my neighborhood like this, I tried my best to take a mental snapshot of the park I used to ride trough, my park, it was basically a wide sidewalk lining up the main avenue that connects Barcelona to Puerto La Cruz. I don't remember what else I did that day, all I can recall is how it felt, to know that life was changing, to be aware that after that day things will never be the same. It hasn't.

Today, I rode a bike again, not trough the old park of my childhood, but trough my current neighborhood. Today was one of those nasty hot muggy Florida Summer days, the thunderstorm clouds lurking nearby, threating with rain and lighting, the multitude of little bugs hitting my eyes, the fiery hot air that burns my lungs. Sweat sticking to my shirt, and I am loving it, I traverse all the streets in my block, looking at all the houses, all the palm trees, mango trees, the local dogs, rednecks working on their cars, teenagers hanging around, people fishing in the canals, (will they eat whatever they catch?) I ride around, feeling like I am twelve again, I swear I must have been smiling the whole time, although I am sure I must have swallowed a bug or two.

I think I am going to do this more often.


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