Two friends gave me an unexpected gift this Christmas: A Schwinn. A lovely, retro-inspired cruiser, replete with a basket and bell, in a sassy champagne color with white trim. The handles and saddle are black, and it reminds me of the Schwinn I had as a girl. My first "grown-up" bike. This was a sweet surprise of a treat.
I've been sans cycle since my beloved red Nishiki was stolen over a decade ago. Which is a shame, really, as my part of town has bike paths that will take me to Malibu or Playa del Rey, as well as all the charming nooks around my eclectic enclave. I've missed pedalling about, and have looked on at those biking with an envious smile. But, unlike my sporty cycle, this is a lady's cruiser, with a swayed bar for skirt-wearing. And, once the weather warms, that's exactly what I'll be donning.
The Schwinn arrived Saturday, but was not assembled. Not to worry; I love a challenge. I did the best I could on my own with borrowed tools from a neighbor before taking it to a local bike shop to finish the job... and to make sure what I had done was done properly. (There weren't what one would call "instructions" when it came to putting the cruiser together.)
I got it back late Sunday afternoon and rode it the long way home. The air was rather chilly and the sun was about to set. If I had my night lights on it, I would've gone farther, down to the beach to see the sun drop into the Pacific. Instead, I made the most of those few blocks.
As I pedaled, I envisioned the places I'd go, the errands I'd run, how I would lure friends to join me on two wheels, even if they'd have to rent theirs. Brunch on the boardwalk at Figtree's, or a stop at the Rose. I could easily ride the path over to the Promenade to catch a movie. Cycle to my salon for my Sunday appointments. This, with the air still crisp, a coat still necessary and the sun setting early. My craving for springtime set in strongly.
I knew that every weekend, I'd be on my bike, riding responsibly. Over to Abbott Kinney to meet up with friends. Popping by to see David at Marina del Rey Liquormart to fetch a recommended wine. Stopping off at the French Market Café to grab my favorite turkey sandwich on their delicious baguette to go, or maybe stay and listen to the staff and clientele parlez français. This all fits so nicely into my resoluteness to enjoy doing at least one thing every day, and enjoy it passionately. Of course, if we add up the ocean, my hamlet, a fine wine, good food and great friends, there's much more to enjoy on a simple bike ride.
But, on Tuesday, news came that the husband-owner of the café, Patrice Martinez, died in a motorcycle crash in South America. My heart goes out to his beautiful wife, Agnes, whose beaming smile greeted all who entered their café, the staff and family of regulars that frequented the happily crowded place. I was much more of an irregular in my decade-and-a-half in Venice, but I have always loved that café and all that I have discovered there.
The reason why I share this terribly sad news is this: Life hangs on a delicate thread. In a moment, everything can change. And, as cliché as it may sound, we must make the most of every precious moment we have... because we don't know how many more are to come. I don't mean for this to sound fatalistic; I find it to be empowering. What better reason for living life with passion?
The news came with the aside that Patrice was on a motorcycle trip with his best friend, doing something he loved. Perhaps solace can be found there. For me, the news reverberated a confirmation of the way I want to live from this year forward: With as much joy, pleasure, love, clarity and elegance as I can. And with frequent stops on my Schwinn at places that delight me, including that French café.
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