Sometimes you feel bad about all the electricity you’re using by keeping the fan on. The fan is always on. The crack of hell decided to gape open today, and its 90 degrees. Your skin is always sticky. Dirty. But everything feels better when the summer wind is rushing against your skin. You figure a bike ride is better than sitting in heat. So you ride, but this was no meandering ride on the trail to let your mind wander. This was a little journey, one of many you’ve had this summer. You religiously check to make sure your phone is reachable within you satchel. Google maps is your bestest friend; it is your beacon. It makes the unexplored seem like nothing special, and it doesn’t make you look lost. But no matter, you felt a little lost today, and maybe a couple of people noticed.
Today you went along the bike trail that went straight into the city. It makes you nervous biking into the city, where hot engines constantly roar at the rolling click of your bicycle and being defensive is your best chance of not dying. You can’t really relax here. However, the continual reference to Google maps makes you feel more secure. You pass the river, and peddle over bridges, pass looming buildings, and your wheeled form flickers in window reflections. You keep going, careful not to clip any pedestrians. You wonder if any of them get annoyed when you blurt, “LEFT!” or “RIGHT” or “PARDON…PARDON ME!” At least you let them know you were coming.
You start to leave behind the core of the city and the directions lead you the crispier, riddled parts. All the corners had been turned, hills had been mounted, and you are finally here. Your destination is right across the street. You just have to park your bike. You scan the sidewalk—disappointed that no obvious bike racks were in sight. The area emanates a need for caution; you don’t ignore this. You decide to plant you bike on a tree and begin to wrestle your bike lock around it. It’s not working. You are struggling and you have gained an audience.
Out of your peripheral vision, you see a red van and the windows prevent you from seeing who is inside. You can tell that they are watching you, but there is no need to be paranoid, right? They are probably parking. After a few seconds, you notice that their engine has not turned off. They have not stopped watching. You decide that it would be better to park your bike elsewhere, away from the truck. You roll your bike away and an invisible string brings the truck with you. You no longer try conceal that you are trying to identify the driver. The truck eases beside you and the window rolls down to reveal a man.
He says, “Hey, you can park your bike on this pole here or over on those posts.”
You internally are fully aware of your parking options, but you are wary as to why this person felt compelled to direct you.
You say, “Oh yeah, I saw that.” Not, I’m well aware, I just wanted you to stop watching me and leave me alone. Maybe that would have been rude.
“Alright, sweety.” Sweety. He flashes me a smile and pulls away. Barely a moment passes and another man is walking briskly towards you.
He asks, “Was that man stalking you? What did that man say to you? Did you know that man? “
I express quickly that I did not personally know him and that he was telling me biking parking options. The man eyes are wide concern.
“Okay, I was wondering…thats why I looked back for his license plate numbers…I was wondering, ‘Is he stalking that young lady?’ but everything’s okay?”
“Yeah, yeah. Everything is fine. Thanks.”
Google map has no directions for you—for this type of thing. Google Maps doesn’t make you look lost, but can’t erase the fact that you are. Lost. Crossroads aren’t always on the ground.