I remember it distinctly.
I had been in Oxford for about a week, had walked everywhere, every day, to meet with colleagues at one of the colleges, to visit Blackwell’s bookshop, to the train station, to Gloucester Green to catch an afternoon bus to London, had dodged and been dodged by bicycles, oh, all the bicycles.
After a week of walking with purpose to the internet cafe, the Bodlean, the Pitt Rivers Museum to see the Oxford dodo, I awoke one morning with nothing to do, and after my coffee I found myself out on St. Giles Street, without knowing how I got there, asking myself, now where shall I go?
Huh? Walking to well, just be walking? What was happening to me?
So I walked out to Summertown to the bike shop there, because for all my walking I was admiring the bicycling culture, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The young moms with their babies in seats on the back pulling up behind buses, waiting for the light to change. The elderly dons weaving about on bikes with tires flattened and whining and their scholarly rumps draped over the sides of the saddles. Student bikes chained on every rail in sight.
All of it, human-scaled, nostalgic, a community in motion, but slow enough to take each other in, even if it is England, and they never initiate conversation. It was this, being out and among others walking, biking, all together, that engaged me and created in me a desire to be […]