Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A letter to my Road King

Dear Beater Bike,

I don’t know where you are or how to find you. Maybe you don’t want to be found. I suspect you aren’t far. You’ve always loved Montreal in the summertime, and I am sure you still do, without me.

I was surprised how you left in the middle of the night; I thought I’d given you the security you needed. Now I’m left lacking closure and sometimes I find it hard to leave my house. Daily life has slowed without you, and it takes me twice as long to get anywhere, to do anything. It’s hard to pretend things are normal.

It’s not that you were the only bike in the world for me. I mean, I’ve had rides in better shape than you, slicker and younger, but I was willing to work it out. But you? What did you do for “us”? Sure we went everywhere together, but do you remember how you hurt me?

When we decided you were ready to let your chain guard go, I thought things were getting better. We were finally able to enjoy a special silence; things were going smoothly. You looked and felt ten years younger. But, it wasn’t long before remnants of your sordid past resurfaced, and you let me slip on your broken pedal and gouge my ankle on your useless, rusted parts. When I suggested we get professional help for these, the last of your hang-ups, you proved to be a difficult case. After that, I wasn’t sure you wanted the help. It wasn’t my fault you were scarred, yet it was me who paid the price. I hope you know that I did everything I could for you. I couldn’t afford to give more. We were good together.

Don’t you remember what a mess you were in when I found you? You were rusting in the snow, twisted and broken by a sidewalk plow hit-and-run, a junkie standing over you, anxious to snatch you away. Your fate was so uncertain. Had I not left the bar at exactly the right time, who knows what might have happened to you that night.

I did everything I could to get you back on the street again. How could you leave like this after all I’ve done for you? I want to think you couldn’t help yourself, or that you’ve gone off to serve a greater purpose. But, I met someone who saw you leave. He said you sold yourself for the cost of a hit.

Loving you was risky, but I’d hoped I’d be able to care for you in a way that could keep you from getting sucked back in by the junkies and crack whores who seemed to know you, and your kind, so well.

I would like to think that you’re enjoying the sunshine somewhere, rolling down a bike path not far from here. I half expect to see you to ride past me, some other girl on your saddle. Just know that I still want you. And, if I find you, I’ll want to chain you up and keep you with me forever. You’ll always be my Road King.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Six-dollar coffee and a coming of age

The fair trade coffee would take minutes longer to prepare than regular brew, she warned me with a hand-rolling gesture that implied eternity. She didn’t tell me it would cost $6 for a to-go cup. I was already feeling guilty for not brewing my own at home, for not bringing my own reusable container, and for ignoring the current strain on my finances.

Then, I realized I’d misunderstood her. Silly me. How could a single cup of regular filter coffee sell for what nearly constitutes a basic hourly wage in some Canadian provinces?

It can. And it does at this mediocre cafe. The “coffee agent” reassured me I’d heard correctly. How can a cafe ethically advertise that they offer fair trade coffee when they package it in such a way that it becomes unaffordable? It’s a ruse.

Since the coffee cost me more than it was worth, I am making it into something bigger than it is. I am assigning the now cold, exorbitantly-priced beverage symbolic value as an offering to the goddess of debt.

This is the year I begin my worship of this, the least compassionate of modern North American goddesses. Only by appeasing this deity will I prevent my own head from rolling, and eventually free my own palpitating heart from her merciless grasp.

Her voice resonates at every sales counter, restaurant and ATM. Her minions monitor my every transaction. She owns me. I am her bitch.

Even though Revenue Canada has misspelled my name on my tax installment forms, I must accept responsibility. Even though my ex-boyfriend emotionally abused me following our break-up, I must continue to pay off the shared Visa bill and its impossibly high interest rates. Despite having graduated from university seven years ago with a degree that would get me nowhere, I continue to make monthly loan payments. And then there are the bills, rent and birthdays. There is no space in my life for $6 coffees.

From this day forward, I acknowledge her power over me and my every decision. I pledge to give her what she craves. I will make sacrifices of my own so as not to be condemned to financial ruin and seven years of purgatory. I will follow carefully planned financial budgets and travel only when I am financially secure. I will swallow my pride. I will no longer see red.

As soon as I have my soul back, I’ll have the freedom to save for my future and address my deficits and responsibilities to humanity and my own personal development. I’ll have true freedom of choice and I will get down to business.

For the record, when that time comes, I still won’t buy $6 coffees.