Slow/Stop

I like to bike in Copenhagen when it’s dark out, when it’s quiet. I haven’t figured out yet how to attach my bicycle bell because I can’t find the screwdriver my roommate says is in the black box underneath my bed, and I haven’t attached both of my bike lights—only the white one, in the back, because I didn’t know the red one was supposed to go there, and I couldn’t find that one the first night that I needed to bike home in the dark, didn’t feel like rummaging longer through the crumpled receipts in my graying tote bag. To continue to grasp at nothing.

I like to bike in Copenhagen when it’s dark out, when it’s quiet, without my bike bell or my lights attached just right. I fear every car that passes will be the police, pulling me over, yelling at me in Danish, and I’ll say something dumb about how I’m new and American and I didn’t know I needed a red light in the back, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I’ll tell them I inherited the bike from a friend of a friend who left again to go back to the US, that no, I definitely didn’t steal it from the courtyard of my apartment building, where a pile of bicycles waited with pink tags for the police to take back for an auction. I didn’t know; I’m so sorry.

I like to bike in Copenhagen when it’s dark out, when it’s quiet, without my bike bell or my lights attached just right. Pedaling as fast as I want to and not worrying about reaching for my handbrakes soon enough, the angry squeak of my tires against pavement against my eardrums, a cringe. Pedaling even though my legs are tired and the wind is heavy and the bridge is a goddamn bitch. I’ll bike to the fucking beach tonight if I want to, weave around the winding sidewalk and sand spots, if I want to, brake abruptly without throwing up a hand signal to stop, if I want to.

Stop.

I like to bike in Copenhagen when it’s quiet. Not always dark. A Sunday morning when the world is still asleep. I’ll go as slowly as I goddamn want, if I want to.

An old therapist once asked me what sadness felt like and I said to her, “Heaviness.” She couldn’t understand.

If only I could give her a bike, have her ride it through Copenhagen in the night. It’s so beautiful, you forget that you’re supposed to stop.

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