Driving and Biking in the Big City

Familiar paths — past and present

with 2 comments

Big Johnny

Big Johnny

When you’ve biked a path and a community for 15 years, you can lose time in the gravel beneath your tires. My mind wanders into the past as often as it flashes forward through the future. I see my kids as school children again, biking these same greenbelts to and from school, first with me along for the ride and then alone as they grew older.

Most bike rides I take these days are alone, on my own schedule and on a path of my own making. But second runner up are my rides with husband John who takes me on new and different paths, perhaps even on my mountain bike, Blue Streak, and into territory that surprises me, even as I consider myself a creature who knows these roads. If I plan a left, John chooses right every time.

It’s been awhile but I’ve experienced some of my longest rides with my niece Pam who is a marathon runner and sets quite a biking pace. When she and her family stayed with us after the damage Hurricane Rita did to her home in Bridge City, we’d take a ride every evening after work and after supper (wonderfully prepared by her.) She’d tell me stories as entertaining and distracting as any a download audibles of best sellers from Harris County Library. She’d pause at just the right spot to get me hurrying across a street to get back into earshot. My favorite was the adventure of their evacuation to Tyler, Texas, and the kindness of some really strange strangers before they made it home to us.

Sweet Pam who mostly runs but bikes with me

Sweet Pam who mostly runs but bikes with me

I show Pam and everyone of my biking buddies the spot where a copperhead was only feet from young Laura and her dad. Almost every time we pass this deadly crossroads we mention the fright and the near miss.

Here’s the bridge where I watched the rowdy boys from the neighborhood take a plastic swimming pool and paddle the hurricane-deepened waters of the gulley. Then, the next bridge reminds me of a family of nutria that basked like otters for families who would come and throw them treats. They frolicked day and night after another long rain caused mass confusion of creatures large and small.

By now, I know or knew friends on most streets in the neighborhoods where I ride. This house and its home next door are friends who’ve long lived in California after we once played tennis, bridge, bunco, raised kids and went to church together.

Here is the terrible story down this cul de sac of a scout leader who left quickly after leaving her seemingly ultra-conservative husband because he had a gambling problem and had lost their beautiful home on his downhill slide. It’s near another home where the neighbor was famous for this ornate and elaborate Christmas decoration that honored Scrooge with its black shadows and “bah humbug” signs.

Here’s where a friend lived from my racquetball days. Little did I know that the favorite sport in Dallas would turn into tennis in Kingwood. Then, there are houses of friends who came and went in my kids’ lives, depending on the sport or hobby. How surprisingly fleeting were those relationships in retrospect.

The old neighborhood of kids and friends

The old neighborhood of kids and friends

We almost bought a house on this street, and you could see an emu farm out the back window — always a strong selling point for me. We’ve lived in four different houses and neighborhoods in Kingwood and it’s strange how you move on and eventually forget this path for that one until one day you find yourself in front of a house you’ve known intimately and left behind.

In Kingwood, many of us made lifelong friends based on that original neighborhood of new mothers and a babysitting co-op of trusted friends to watch each others’ kids. These were the women who kept each other entertained during the otherwise exhausting baby years, comparing pediatricians and supper plans or scheduling couples game nights, New Year’s Eve parties, outings to Houston. The friend who watched Laura while I went to the hospital to have Trav, burning up the phone lines to tell the news. All far flung now but still available for a call or a visit and as comfortable as family.

They are the ones who knew our kids as babies and adore them as their own. The ones who considered it a privilege to be asked to watch your kid because they know how picky you are. The ones whose kids now have kids and those faces are so familiar as if today was 20 years ago.

And so I pedal and remember and dream and wake up at a curve in the road and have forgotten where I am, what time it is, how long I’ve been riding and if I took the wrong road and just kept going. But then I see something that reminds me of someone and somewhere else and I’m back on a familiar road and know exactly where home is.


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

August 21, 2013 at 5:22 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Hi,

    I just wanted to tell you I enjoyed your writing today. Both of us being from Port Neches/Groves, your story hit home with me. I grew up on 9th street in Port Neches and have some of the same memories with my parents.

    Just wanted to say Hi.

    Colleen Zorn Bivens PNG 1970

    Colleen Zorn Bivens

    August 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm

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