Sometimes I miss my California friends so much that my lungs hurt.
When this happens, I take comfort in the fact that I am so much closer to many old friends and to family, too. But this past summer, an old friend left Philly.
She is not terribly far, but just far enough so that I can’t grab coffee with her or make a last-minute plan. We can still chat on the phone late at night after the kids have gone to sleep or when she is out walking her dog.
She was brave to scoop her family up to make a new start in a new place. Watching her use her characteristic spunk to gather her life, kids, pets and belongings up and move them reminded me of why I liked her the minute I met her, years ago in the early 1990s.
One day, during her last week here in Philly, when I was at her house helping her with a few odds and ends, I suddenly turned around and saw her beloved bike on the curb. I had been looking for an old, knock-around-town bike on Craigslist, but for some reason, I felt funny asking her if I could have it. She said that she was getting a new bike and that it was time to part with this one, even though it had been her faithful steed for years.
Finally, I saw that she really meant to leave the bike on the curb for someone else to take, and I asked her if that taker could be me. She said that yes, she would love to leave her old wheels with someone she knew, and hey presto, the bike had a new rider.
Triumphant, I drove the bike home. I hauled it out of the car and showed it to my husband and my daughters, all of whom were happy to see my new-to-me bike: torn seat, some rusty parts, but strong and with good bones. And a bell! And a rack on the back for one of those panniers!
I dug out my helmet and hopped up on that bike. I rode it up and down the street like a little kid, shakily at first. But as they say, you really don’t forget how. I felt fabulous, the wind in my hair, zooming along while my girls cheered.
I can’t believe it’s been so long.