Bikes and Iced Lattes

IMG_6683

One of my friends who’s been dear to me since middle school visited from Chicago yesterday. She’s hanging onto the last vestiges of her summer break between her gap year and the beginning of grad school while I’m hanging onto my sanity living at home with my parents. Neither of us had a car available so we did something we hadn’t done since we’d gotten our driver’s licenses.

We rode our bikes to lunch.

We grabbed burritos at Pancheros and chased them with sugary monstrosities from Starbucks. I struggled to situate myself on my bicycle while sucking on my Iced Coconut Milk Mocha Macchiato (try saying that five times fast—I couldn’t properly say it once when I tried to order it). I felt intensely self-aware as the condensation outside my cup dripped down my arm and I pumped the pedals behind my old friend. Her life was far from perfect, but I couldn’t help but think it must feel nice to have a vague idea of what you’re doing with your life, or at least where you’re going to school for the next two years.

My color-damaged blonde hair was wispy in the breeze. My concert tee was tucked neatly into my destroyed jean shorts and my right leg was tattooed with bike chain grease. With my iced beverage in my left hand and my handlebars controlled coolly in the right, it occurred to me that I couldn’t look more like a middle schooler if I tried.

“I look like a really cool eighth grader,” I joked.

I hoped drawing attention to my accidental juvenility would make me feel a little less embarrassed, because living at home as an adult already felt regressive. I got into emotional fights with my mom about doing the laundry. My degree in creative writing seemed increasingly useless with each job application I sent in and didn’t even get a confirmation email for in return. The image of me on my bicycle was just the physical embodiment of the complete loserdom I had been cultivating since graduation, or perhaps since birth.

My friend turned around and grinned at me. “You look like the girl I wanted to be when I was sixteen,” she said without a trace of irony.

With that one statement my embarrassment transformed into something else entirely: pride.  I was everything sixteen-year-old me had wanted to be, too. I bought coffee with my own babysitting money. I could make small talk with strangers without freezing up with anxiety. I graduated from a world-renowned university with a degree in my life’s greatest passion.  I’d kissed a boy, goddammit!

I’m not completely comfortable with being an unemployed post-grad living at home. But why would I be? Who feels comfortable on meter 600 of a 10k run, or sitting in the airport on a layover before a delayed flight? I’m proud of how far I’ve come on this journey and I’m already proud of wherever I’m going. It just took a bicycle to remind me.

Posted by

Midwest fiction writer hailing from the Mitten State. Not nearly as clever as I pretend to be.

7 thoughts on “Bikes and Iced Lattes

  1. I love this post, I can relate on so many levels. Unfortunately I’m now pushing 30 and I think I too might be what 16 year olds want to be… When they’re 21. It feels a little less “Look at me!” and a little more “Okay, pull it together now, Katy” by this stage in life, but bugger it – conventional living is just not for everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really, really liked this. I’ve often found myself struggling with where I am and where I want to be. Acceptance is a hard pill to swallow. What stood out the most to me was that you said we shouldn’t be satisfied with where we are because the journey isn’t over yet. I’ll be telling myself that a lot from now on.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s