i almost push snooze, but instead i wake with vigor (pretend) and pedal myself to yoga. i park my bike at 5:23 am with just minutes to spare. a man startles me, and i remind myself he is just a man. i want to assume he is kind and innocent and so I say good morning. he returns the gesture. i tell him i am glad i am here (at yoga). " I almost pressed snooze," I tell him.
at 7:15 am I exit the studio and hear the city just beginning it's day, while i have already climbed mountains, if only within myself. The same man is still there, rummaging trash, sitting on the bench, collecting nothing for something. he asks what i have planned for the day and i tell him I will take my daughter to school. He asks about after. I say work, he assumes house. i say, maybe. i'm not quite sure what it is i want to be doing.
i come home and make a lunch for Octave's third day of kindergarten. i ask if she wants leftover pasta in her lunch, and she replies all of my fears summed into one, heartbreaking answer. "no, because other people might think it is weird." three days. it only took three to understand the status quo of kindergarten lunches. my blood boils, my heart races, my words are already inadequate. she might not believe me the way she used to. please, let her believe me. i hold truth in the very center of my being. i can only mutter something like, "babe, it doesn't matter what other people think. it only matters that you eat what you like. if you don't want pasta, that's ok, but only if that's really what you want." I cannot dismantle the generations of fear that have brought us here, in just one sentence. It will take months, years maybe to undo one second of her lunch room experience. Relax, I tell myself. You are her mother, you hold the most power (for now). Don't you dare let fear steal your thunder. It's just kindergarten. It's just lunch. And yet, it's not.
i let my love pedal her to school because my thighs have endured two consecuetive days of hot yoga and 26 miles of pedaling. Ironically, I would rather scrub floors. and so I do, joyfully. warm water, vinegar, tea tree. i scrub. i worry. i hope they make it there, on time. or at all. why my mind entertains these morbid ideas is disturbing. i ask it to go away and so it does, reluctantly. i have so much loose. and i've never been one to think, never, or not me.
i exhale, pour mushroom coffee and open a book. i could get used to this, until ten minutes later...
bijou comes back with my love. we read her favorite books and make puzzles. then we put on a show and escape to our room to make love. because that is what we use shows for, and i don't feel bad about it.
a few hours later, i pick octave up at school. she is bright and happy and undeniably tired. dark circles beneath her eyes, dirt in her once neatly parted hair. it was a well lived day. or so she says.
we meet a magic mama and her magic babe for vegetable juice and vegan cookies. we talk about the nuance of privilege and choice, parenthood and life. a crazy woman tells our girls about a dog who ate the neighbors chickens. we are confused. we smile and eventually keep walking. this is why i love the city.
we find our way back to hawthorne, back to our bike, after stopping for every bug, every flower and every dog and it's owner. we pedal home as the sun begins to set. there is car traffic but we are free from it. we kindly acknowledge, wave and weave through people and their stories. theirs are ending, ours are just beginning. the day feels lived in and full. there is beauty and grit everywhere i look. it feels like the life i always wanted to live. the life i wanted to give my children.
around 31st and stark we see the ginger haired unicorn on a scooter, who we keep managing to see every few days. it's like our paths are meant to cross, and so they do. the girls ask me how i know it's the same person from the few days before. i tell them you don't see too many ginger bearded, unicorn wearing, scooter riding, late twenty or early thirty something men. and so, he is easy to spot. the girls immediately love him, and so do i. i think he is one of us. bijou tells him he is a sweet man and he says he will ride with us to Ankeny. the world feels at my fingertips, and in this moment I want nothing more. i am happy to be awake and vulnerable on a bike. i am proud to have the children i do, and am grateful that this is the kind of life we live. the city is our playground. we dreamed this. we chose this. we created this. i can't get enough.
my city, our love affair.