Tuesday, 13 May 2008

what I did not do tonight and why

Tonight, I went along to the local Amnesty group. They were having a film night at a Centre.

I wheeled my bike out of the apartment and locked the door. Then I unlocked the door and went back in to get my helmet. Then I locked the door again. Then I put on my helmet. It was not my helmet. So I unlocked the door, swapped the helmets, put mine on, locked the door, got on my bike and left.

The Amnesty film night was on Queen Street. The email said so. I have not lived here that long, but I was rather proud that I actually know where Queen Street is, so I headed there. On the way, as I ba-bomped over a kerb, the bolt holding the left bracket of my basket to my handlebars pinged off. The basket teetered crazily. I shrugged and carried on. I still had the right bracket. Every time I went over a bump, the loose left bracket jingled.

I got to Queen Street. Except it was Queens Avenue. I stopped beside a park where two ladies were walking their dogs. One of the dogs was very excitable, and it was trying to jump about and poo at the same time. I asked the ladies where Queen Street was. They said I was on it. I said, no, this is Queens Avenue. Yes, they said, but there isn't a Queen Street. This must be what you're looking for. The dog succeeded in pooing. The lady didn't scoop it. I thanked them and carried on. I was in the 100s. The place was in the 600s! I pedalled harder. The loose basket danced and bounced. I found the 600s. I found 656. It was just a house. I turned round and cycled back the other way. I must have got the number wrong. I looked at 626. It was a house too. I pulled in to the side of the street and thought.

Then I realised I was cycling on the wrong side of the street! I was cycling with the kerb on my left!! But I am not in New Zealand! How could I have cycled up a busy main road on the wrong side, with cars coming towards me, and not noticed?! I almost had a heart attack. Then I saw that it was a one-way street. So the cars were all going the same way as me.

I couldn't find the Centre. My back wheel started making a funny noise as if something were caught in it. I started going home. I cycled past a row of pretty yellow brick houses. Their doors went red, orange, purple, brown, yellow. I cycled past many law firms, and a pub where the men stood outside and watched me go past, and a sign saying I could have Botox and look great for Spring, and a grocery store that sold "most Middle Eastern foods". My basket hung more crookedly and the bracket jingled.

I took a wrong turn into a suburban, tulippy wilderness. The houses were big and quiet. Finally I arrived home. I was so excited to find out what I had done wrong that I opened my email right away. It said, 636 Queen St.

I went back out into the hallway, turned, and wheeled my bike into the apartment. The basket performed a final exuberant galliard, and descended to the floor.


Allison Fairbairn said...

Oh, lord, that is a sad story. The trials of learning a new city.

May I suggest knitting some reflective gear before you head out on the wrong side of the street again? We cannot afford to lose Amber. The basket, yes.

Amber said...

But without the basket, I cannot do my grocery shopping.

I can't sort out this right-side wrong-side thing when I'm cycling. On a bike, I'm so used to the kerb on the left. It's just weird the other way. You should have seen the face of the school bus driver in Saskatoon as I approached closer and closer on his side of the street. Some people should not be allowed on the roads.