The Intern • April 20th, 2019
LOS ANGELES – Before she opened her eyes Cynthia instinctually reached her arm out to feel the left side of the bed and felt only the cool sheets where Allan used to sleep. After an instant of panic, she opened here eyes and looked at the pillow. It all came rushing back. It had been 6 weeks since her life partner left. And no mater what her married-with-one-kid friends Ben and Shanna said over their monthly Tuesday Night glass of Rose at The Tasting Kitchen, no matter how often she looked at Allan’s instagram feed with the hope that there would be some secret message hidden in a photograph (perhaps a few letters drawn into the sands of Will Rogers beach, the sight of the last day she thought they had felt truly connected when they both declared their love for Bay Cities Sandwiches) she had to start facing the fact that Allan might be gone for good.
But why? Why had he left her without saying a word? All she found was a note on the floor of her now half-empty bedroom closet that read “I just can’t anymore.”
Was he cheating? Was he scared of commitment? Or was it her?
Maybe the little shit who she got fired from Sweet Greens for forgetting her extra avocado on her harvest salad was right? Maybe she was a Grade-A cunt?
Well, stewing on this sort of negative thinking wasn’t going to help. That’s what Anna Ferris said anyway on her podcast about the benefits of CBD bee pollen. Maybe a bit of exercise would brighten her mood. It had been ages since Cynthia took the bike out for a ride. Maybe that’s just what she needed.
But where could she bike? The roads were all filled with cars. And the bike baths were all filled with bikes. If only there was a place specifically made for biking where no other people ever biked.
Then Cynthia had a thought - a genius thought. Ben and Shanna had told her about how they took perfect 4 year old Ryler and his shaggy blonde hair to this big patch of blacktop near the Santa Monica Airport to teach him how to ride a bike- Ryler had taken to it like the perfect, advanced, and beautiful child he was. In fact, now that she thought about it, she was almost certain they had mentioned that this patch of blacktop was a bike park. You know, like all those bike parks that exist in the world where just bikes are allowed to be and nothing else. That’s what this was right? But a bike park like that might be filled with other bikers, including the young kind- the ones learning to ride- and though it’s not their fault, they would remind her of her inability to have a perfect Ryler of her own.
Well, it was a chance she had to take for the sake fo her own sanity. She put her 6 thousand dollar bike that Allan bought her several into the back of her Honda CRV, squeezed into her spandex biking shorts, turned on some Adele and drove to the Airport.
When she arrived it was more perfect than she could ever imagine - a giant rectangular plot of blacktop with not one bike lane painted on the ground, perfectly sharp corners for turning, and tons of cracks in the blacktop through with a garden of plants and weeds sprouted. She unloaded her bike, snapped her helmet on, and began her ride.
And unlike every other bicyclist on the planet, Cynthia liked to ride slow. Very slow. Anyone could ride fast, or even a reasonably well paced speed. But Cynthia wanted to ride so slow that she was in danger of tipping over. That’s what would fix things. This is what she had come to do to work through this unfolding drama in her life.
And at first it worked. The slower she rode, the better she felt. Why, if she did it right she could bike around this blacktop all day and go less than 10 miles. Maybe after a ride like that her mind would be clear enough to give Allan a call and tell him she loved him- that she wanted to make it work, that she could change, that she wasn’t the harsh, aggressive, inflexible bitch that their mail carrier said she was.
And just as she had made up her mind to rebuild her marriage, her world crumbled. 6 white men, some with beards, all wearing t shirts, walked right into the middle of this bike park and proceeded to set up cones into a pattern of lines marking some sort of playing field. All while she continued to slowly bike around the very perimeter of this bike park.
Then, out of nowhere , one of them charged her, shouting as he ran- “Hi there! Just wanted to let you know that we’re gonna be playing a game here- would it be ok if you didn’t ride through where we are playing? There’s tons of space everywhere else.”
No. No. no. no. no. no. no. no. no. no. no. no.
This was not how the day was supposed to go! Today was supposed to be a re-birth by bicycle! This was her second chance! She had to wipe the slate clean! And now she was being told by MEN that she must slightly alter her path of riding so they could play some kind of game that wasn’t riding bikes??
Fuck. That. She tried to reason with them, explaining that this was a bike park. But they weren’t having it. They claimed it was an open use space for everyone.
And why weren’t these grown men who seemed to be playing some sort of baseball not playing it on grass?? Wasn’t baseball meant to be played on grass?? She offered a solution, perhaps they should go play on the nearby soccer fields. These monsters replied “Oh the soccer fields where there are dozens of kids playing soccer? No..” The nerve! Her perfectly viable suggestion was received as if it was spoken by a complete idiot! And to make matters worse, these men were now playing their game! Right in her biking path! All those years of working in the legal department of the Palisades General Hospital weren’t going to go to waste. She knew her rights. So the next time the rode defiantly through their game, like a modern day asian rosa parks on a bike, she shouted “If you hit me I’ll sue you!”
The law was on her side. There was nothing she was more certain of than that. But for some reason these troglodytes refused to listen. Instead, one of the skinnier degenerates harassed her further, shouting “Be a human being!”
What was that supposed to mean?? Wasn’t she a human being? Clearly she was. An intelligent, self possessed, rational human worthy of love and respect. Unlike these man-children who no doubt had been in prison for stealing guns from Wal-Marts.
She would not be moved. No. So she continued to ride. Victory lap after victory lap. Each slower than the next. Until what had started as an act of defiance became a sublime meditation that strangely brought Cynthia peace. It was a metaphor for her life- she was going to continue riding as slowly as possible in circles around a blacktop lot no mater how much the deplorable around her tried to make her feel less than.
Once she came to this realization, she decided to take her bike home. But on the way she stopped at Cafe Gratitude to get something that reminded her how beautiful she was on the inside.