Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The pleasantries of biking

As I race through the streets of Fengyuan on bicycle, my mind seeks refuge, a sort of calm among the madness of the streets. It seems I'm transfixed by the racing scooters, the mixes of green and yellow and dirt, the coughing and spitting, or maybe it's just the piles of smoggy air filling my lungs, the chemicals forming a substance my body finds to be addictive and poisonous. I release great smiles from my face, the wholeness of it all, despite hectic and all together maddening, fills my heart with joy. It's the little things and the big things that my mind eats up. Time is stopping to take it all in. The woman is about to eat pomelo, juice soon to be dripping down her chin. Hundreds of birds cramped inside their cages in a corner pet store licking their tail feathers. The man on his scooter with a worn down cigarette butt resting between his fingers while reaching in his pocket to answer his cell phone. The rice plants next to the freeway, sprucing and polished like they're meant to be photographed. The signs, yellows and blues, reds and whites, rusted, jut out from the building, trying to escape the grey wall. The planted rhododendrons planted in the island separating traffic lanes. All is moving yet nothing inches forward. In cartoon form, everything has two squiggly dashes behind it. The bike and I are frozen in time too. I'm stuck in second gear and my helmet is on too tight. The sounds echo in my ears, the horns and whistles and endless knocking and grinding of metal against metal. My calf muscle is about to take another turn of the peddle. It's a picture worth saving if only I had a camera, so I try to store it mentally, inviting the next second's picture to cram alongside the last.

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