I started noticing them in the summer. Lime green bikes, baskets in front. Clustered together, unlocked. Here and there. Waiting to be used like little shoots of hope in a city ruled by the automobile.
I first noticed the bikes in the older part of town where you find the art galleries, restaurants, and coffee shops; the chamber of commerce, vacant storefronts, and small theaters; the new highrise apartments, Subway sandwich store, and ILWU local 63 office
Time passed, and I noticed the bikes started showing up further north. At the 7-11. The 99 cent store. The public library. The Payless shoe store.
Yesterday, I noticed one, a half-mile north or its origin, at a major cross street. Apartments, homes, people, and cars flowed around the parked bicycle.
Today I noticed this one.
I couldn’t help but wonder. Who used this bike? Who will pick it up next? Where will it go?
Then, four blocks from this, I spotted two, side by side.
Two create a whole new set of possibilities of what might be.
Then, a block away, three.
I pulled over, opened the window and heard quacking. I had forgotten about the ducks. What was the story here? Three friends who stopped to take a walk. Perhaps. Are they feeding the ducks or just relaxing under the trees? Or, are they in one of the homes nearby.
The bikes are filtering uptown. To the more suburban, park filled locations.
This has been happening for some time. I just noticed it.
Today, I drove a few blocks south of where I first noticed the bikes, below the art galleries and coffee shops. This area overlooks our waterfront. This is where you find the post office and a growing homeless population. Right behind renewal lives poverty. And it’s growing. Steve Lopez gives voice to the people in this situation in this recent Los Angeles Times article. These are people who are working, living in cars, and in encampments like the one near the waterfront. It is painful to read. Even more distressing to notice in your own neighborhood.
I ask my students to notice. Awareness is the start of all things I want for them. Noticing precedes action. And it’s something I don’t do enough of. Ever.
Noticing. The lime green bikes. The honking ducks. The sun peeking through the mist. The kiddo who forgot his lunch and sits alone. The woman pushing a shopping cart oblivious to the cars that just avoid her.
Notice. My one little word for 2018. Noticing is the first step to doing. Something.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. Read more slices here.