The night air is cold, cold for August in central Illinois, at least. I can feel the familiar pull my feet give against the toe clips as I speed home, a little in love with the night in the flat land city of the middle west, but still anxious to be home, out of the cold and on the phone with someone who is expecting a call. I reluctantly pull up as I come to the door of my building; speed is one of the more addictive qualities about bicycles, but it’s also in the way you feel speed. On the bike, the machine and the rider are one organism, like the wheels are another set of limbs and frame, crank set, and handlebars are extensions of the riders’ body, and feeling extends to the tires and ground meeting instead of stopping at the skin.
When I get off I can hear laughter coming from the balcony of the house across from the building. There’s the smell of charcoal from their grill and the pervasive, skunk-like smell of weed, and I find it oddly reassuring. Responsibilities are still a week away and days slow down from lack of deadlines. It might be the last time I have time like this. It’ll probably be the last time I live surrounded by people like me like this, the student ghetto, as my Greek professor once called it. It’s not that it’s a bad area, we just all have little to no money except for liquor and books and everyone can pull out a guitar or a pipe or maybe just their voice when requested.
Then again, I am going into academia.
Then again, this is the last time I’ll be an undergraduate.
It’s a year of lasts that will probably also turn into a year of firsts, like every other year. I have a bike, it’ll all be fine.