A few years back, I bought a bike at Target. It was one of those “couples” purchases I made as a husband. My wife at the time bought one as well, on the same day. We resolved to go biking on a regular basis. To enjoy the rural Saco life, pedaling slowly by dairy farms and pet cemeteries and sprawling forests. Well, we only really biked together that first day. Real life, and then relationship troubles, got in the way of any sort of regular couples cycling. Eventually, we didn’t even want to stay in the same room as one another, let alone spend quality time together gently cycling through our neighborhood.
Eventually, she and I split up. I took my bike with me, jamming it into my back seat as I filled my car with the final items from my former home and drove away in my car that was falling apart (and would break down as soon as I paid off the car loan, in the same exact week even). When I lost my car, that bike was my savior. Once I was through lamenting my marriage, and having panic attacks – it kept me from walking six miles each way (except for winter) and it also enabled me to explore my new home town of Biddeford. I went on lots of adventures with that bike, once even riding from Biddeford (where I lived at the time) all the way to Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. I made a video montage of myself, riding along, trying to look as if I was leading an exciting life.
When I became officially divorced, more than a year later – the judge was trying to assess our properties and belongings. “What kind of vehicle do you drive?” He asked my wife. She told him what model her car was, and he wrote something down in front of him on a notepad. Then, he looked at me. “And you, Mr. Carro – what kind of vehicle do you drive?”
I looked him in the eye and I said “I drive a Schwinn, your honor.”
The slightest smile curled one corner of his mouth. “A Schwinn? As in, the bicycle?”
“Yes, your honor.”
The judge chuckled to himself, nodding, writing down my response on the notepad in front of him. I wondered what else it said.
Later, when I moved to Portland – the bike came with me. It enabled me to explore the suburbs I was then living in, and I even made a point to ride with my girlfriend and explore the outskirts of Portland with it. The bike had become a companion of sorts, something that stayed with me and survived despite the turmoil I’d been through.
However, as I settled into being a resident of Portland – I was not kind to the bike. It was rusting, off and on, in the backyard lot of my apartment building, through the comings and goings of the seasons. Yet another relationship of mine was breaking apart at the time, and the bike was forgotten. I finally gave it to a friend of mine, who needed it more than I did, and who would take care of it more than I had. And so, I rid myself of one remnant of my past that I’d purchased to invest in my marriage. That marriage is gone, and I’m now married to a different woman and I’m living a much different life than I did back then. My thoughts drift once more to the romantic idea of riding bicycles together under the sun, and I wonder what kind of bike I’ll eventually end up with. I wonder, also, if I’ll treat the bike better than I have bikes in the past.