a girl and her bike

a girl and her bike

exploring the best coast all year long

what I know

i like granola on my frozen yogurt

i like autumn

i like little kids eating bagels while crossing the street in noe valley

i like driving backroads

i like eating burgers on english muffins

i like sunshine

i like grass

i like making the curb my living room

i like trying new things

i like doing the same things

i like lifting weights with justin timberlake in my headphones

i like saying words like padywax

i like eating brunch alone

i like addressing thank you notes

That Calm

I’ve been on the housing search in San Francisco for a few weeks now. It’s been everything you’d imagine it to be if you read the Bold Italic: frustrating, emotionally exhausting, and maybe even a little thrilling. My hunt is dominated by refreshing Craigslist about every 23 minutes, meeting with strangers in their strange smelling homes, and riding the whirlpool of hope + defeat. I’m searching for sunshine and human connection — and yet to find a place that really feels right. 

Seeking a new home and constantly trying others on for size can make you feel pretty uprooted (at least they have for me). So as I continue to fight the whirlpool and hit refresh, I’m also going to look for moments of home in pockets of this city. Today at Sugarlump, holding a warm mug in my hands and surrounded by dark wood and beachy vinyl, I felt that calm. It didn’t take more than the decision to seek it, and I carried it with me as I left and walked to bart. 

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neon

I sat beneath that buzzing neon sign and it was like reality breaking through the dream. It wasn’t at all like that song that had always stood in my mind as a city story — a story I’d thought I might write one day.

I sat there feeling sick to my stomach; full of dread and knowing I would never come back. To any of it. We talked and talked and I just felt worse, until finally I was just a small voice saying “okay” and biking off in the dark. Back on birch street, I laid on my bed in my shoes and cried a few brief moments. For those few moments, all of September flooded me and left in an instant.

Something shifted shortly after that. I can’t say what exactly changed or when the page turned, but like with all growth it happened inexplicably and imperceptibly. And on one Friday, shuttling back into the city, I felt a completeness and an energy and a readiness for the next pop of light.

a catalog of light

This evening I sat in an apartment on 24th street and clicked away at my internet errands as the sun went down. T asked if I wanted the lights on, but I declined with partially-subconscious hopes of taking in all of the sun the day had left. I sat in that special in-between space, experiencing the subtle transition of day to night. 

I’ve been thinking about light lately. Through the dust on my living room windows, immersed in the arboretum of the lost coast, in leaf-shaped shadows on a Noe Valley storefront, squinting into a camera at Candlestick Park, brushing my teeth by the ivory glow that exists in the three inches between this building and the next. I remember looking out a window in some corner of the Strand in New York and loving the way the light dimmed as it made its way into an interior courtyard. I remember sitting on a fancy charter bus in Buenos Aires and watching the cold winter light push through leaves on trees as we sped out of the city. I remember reading a trashy novel by street light in a Chicago windowsill and I remember biking home in the magic hour of an almost-rain in Oregon. Sometimes we realize things are wonderful and important and we make note in the moment to not forget (and maybe even try to document and socially share this seemingly meaningful experience). But other times, the slightest light or color or texture or humidity is captured in thought, taps nostalgia or an emotional nerve, and sits in our memory until we see it again. 

night rides

Two nights ago, B dropped me at 19th street bart after a night of talking and driving through the quiet streets of oakland for chamomile tea. As I walked down into the station I felt the kind of calm and clarity that comes from a long conversation with a best friend. It was such a change from my normal bart approach, in which I’m usually running like a baby giraffe who still hasn’t fully learned to walk, attempting to catch a train that leaves in approx. 2 minutes. Whether it’s for a bart train, or the facebook shuttle, or the 21, I’m always pushing it to the last second and then running with no shame through san francisco. 

But this night was different. I didn’t check my bart app for the arrivals schedule, and as I descended onto the SF platform I actually hoped that I would have a while to wait. I’ve found that there’s something in that late-night bart trip that is so peaceful and contemplative. You share the station or the train with just a few others, and there’s enough space for everyone to be in their own space. When I finally boarded the train, I was happy to note that the boy nearest to me was occasionally scribbling down thoughts in a journal. As we made our way through west oakland, I looked out at the east bay lights below, the yellowed graffiti, and the glow of the sf landscape beyond. I was on my way home; but I also felt so at home in my window seat with my thoughts and my headphones. 

remember when I started a blog?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. My friends keep asking when I’m going to post, and I even half-heartedly wrote “post to blog” on my list of happiness goals. Truth be told, I have been on a few bike adventures recently, but I haven’t really been inspired to post about them. Sometimes bike ventures are exciting and symbolic and empowering and glorious, but other times they’re just nice and nothing to write to the internet about. 

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The last few nights I’ve had major urges to write — but not about betty. I might be a girl and her bike, but I’m also a girl with a bart ticket and a zip car and a pair of flats that I’ve walked holes into. Sometimes I’m the girl cruising up 101 N in a jeep named Larry.

All of this is to say: I’ll be telling all of my stories here from now on.

so let’s do this

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A few weeks ago I went nextlevel with my what-do-I-really-want philosophy and trekked to sonoma. I made a playlist, rented a zip car, somehow managed to fit betty into a nissan sentra, and began to cut through the city for wine country. As I drove across the golden gate bridge I couldn’t stop smiling — it felt so good to be free and headed somewhere solo. After taking myself out to brunch at the fremont diner, I took off toward downtown sonoma in search of some bike trails.

Now I have to say, in my solo journeys this spring, I’ve really been inspired by how kind people have been; everyone I’ve met has been so willing to help me along the way. On this trip I found a picturesque route from a sweet girl in a bike shop and received directions to the perfect cafe from a man on the street. I know these interactions are small, but when you’re on your own (and without 4G), generosity and intention can carry you a long way. 

The trail that I was directed to was beautiful and dynamic — I biked through a film festival, past baseball diamonds and middle schoolers on middle school dates until I reached a tree-canopied dirt road. It was here that I put on my playlist and jammed in the sunshine until it was five o’clock and time to head home. I left town during magic hour, feeling like I’d cracked open a secret: I could do it.

the turnaround

I’ve always been the kind of person who needs change and adventure and newness. I diligently contemplate making big changes in my life and then whole-heartedly jump off the cliff. But almost always, I find myself struggling on the other side of my decision. For a period of time I’m entirely resistant to the changes I’ve made for myself. Eventually though, my innate optimism wins over, and so begins the turnaround.

When I moved to San Francisco in late January I was in disbelief that I’d left my warm, fourth-story apartment for a dark room facing a fence. I didn’t know how to get into my groove again in this new place. I didn’t know where to buy hummus or which bus (other than the 21) to take home. I felt crazy and untethered, and I wondered how I was going to fix my life. I wrestled around with this question for a few weeks before finally abandoning it altogether and instead asking myself: how can I feel good today? I found that the answer to this question was almost always simple and accessible. More often than not, the answer was to be on my bicycle. 

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This summer I’ll be learning my new city and exploring the best coast by bicycle. My name is Hannah and my bike’s name is Elizabeth — you can call her Betty. Let’s adventure together.