Monthly Archives: November 2018

Jesus is on the Bus…

This is going to sound like I’m very weird, need a tinfoil hat, or have completely lost my marbles, but just about every time I get on the bus I think about Jesus. The first time it happened I was around twenty-two, traveling on public transit where I lived at that time, in Monterey. A crazy guy got on the bus all the sudden, as we were traveling the streets of that picturesque town. My first reaction was discomfort/fear. He was in a state of talking to himself and others Invisible to me. He had scraggly, long, blonde hair and clothes that were dirty and holy (not in any spiritual way), he had a grubby hiking pack. His blue eyes were wild. And I heard something in my head as he sat down in front of me. “That could be Jesus.” It was so random and weird (particularly since I hadn’t been to church in years) and outside of my train of thought. I started thinking about it though. “Maybe that’s Jesus, trying to see what kind of a reception he gets in that disguise.”

Nothing like that has happened on this trip, unless you count the guy who had trouble differentiating his own personal space from mine on the trip out. Mostly it’s just weary travelers, who, like me, probably just got through a Thanksgiving Feast with family and are now headed home. But there is literally every kind of person here at the Atlanta terminal. A guy that came in on the bus with me was wearing camo pants and an Abe Lincoln in sunglasses shirt. There are no less than fifteen children here right now. Around my seat I hear no less than three languages being spoken. Any one of these folks could be Jesus. What started me on the Jesus bus this evening was a post from my daughter, thanking me for being her friend. That made me think about how I hoped she felt loved enough by me. Then I got to thinking about the young man in the hoody in front of me, whom I’d smiled at on the way down the aisle. I hoped he felt loved. Then I looked around the bus thinking about what would happen if we could see each other with that kind of love.

And then there was the crazy Jesus thought. He actually said to love your neighbor as yourself (it’s part of the “Great Commandment”). Except it always gets past over because I think that many folks like the parts of the Bible that can be translated into, “you don’t belong here,” which of course seems to maybe miss the point just a little. Of course its always easier to love folks in theory than reality. Like, you know, there are going to be prostitutes and lepers, and crazy people who sit there and talk to nobody in particular or that lady across the way who’s wearing a get-up of camo shirt, blue teddy over the top, high black boots, bright pink socks/leggings and a fluffy plaid miniskirt. She’s topping all that off with a giant teal hair clip. She’s even got a pack of marlboros in her hand. I have real issues with smokers. She’s just held up her newspaper and it’s entirely written in Korean, which is a language I still read. Maybe that’s my sign.

Love is hard. The people we’re tasked to love in our lives (including, I’m want to add, ourselves) are problematic and flawed. They brought their crunchiest chips on the bus, or an onion sandwich. They sometimes look for all their might like they just got off the crazy train. They’re small and they cry or need to much. My daughter was never still and hated being hugged. But it’s still the great commandment. And on nights like this, when I drank a red eye before riding, and had an hour of uninterrupted thought after the sun went down and I couldn’t read anymore, I think that Jesus is on my bus, in disguise, trying to see what kind of a reception he’ll get dressed up in the most outlandish getup you can imagine, doing the Korean crossword in pen.

Pedal Chic, a She-Bikes Paradise

When I was around ten years old, we moved to northern Mississippi from northern Illinois.  One of my first, most pervasive, memories from Ripley Mississippi was watching my boy cousins taking apart the bottom bracket of a bicycle, under what southerners like to affectionately refer to as a “car port,” grease the ball bearings and put everything back together.  I remember asking to help and being told that I was a girl and that girls aren’t supposed to get dirty.  It was a hot summer day and I was squatting in the dusty corner of the carport, amazed at the inner workings of a bicycle (I’d only just pedaled at that time).  I’m pretty sure my knees were smudged and I was wearing shorts (I typically dressed for adventure), but that was what they said, and it stuck.

I’ve often joked about putting broken bikes by the tree out front, to be fixed and used by someone in the neighborhood.  When I first moved to the Cherry neighborhood in Charlotte I did that with an old bike I had.  It was a bike Madison’s grandfather left for us that had fallen into disrepair.  At that time I’d no better idea how to fix a bike than how to do brain surgery.  I don’t think I could even change a tire back then.  But a few weeks later, I watched one of the neighborhood boys riding that bike down Luther.  I thought of the magical knowledge my cousins had, the basic understanding that comes from being allowed to get one’s hands dirty.

By this time in life (49), I’ve ridden a bicycle in rural Louisiana, Monterey, San Francisco, Seattle and Charlotte, but it is only in the past 5 years that I learned anything about how to work on bicycles.  The first time I had to fix a flat, I did that thing like in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, where I phoned a friend.  My neighborhood friend was Kelly Platt.  She came and picked me up in her truck and dropped me off at home.  Then I went to Target on my daughter’s giant cruiser (the old time cadillac of bikes) and bought some inner tubes.  At home I used a butterknife (you shouldn’t do that) to change the tire.  Eventually I learned how to do it better, taught a class on bike safety and maintenance for beginners,  and most recently, rehabbed an entire bicycle with not very much help.  I got so dirty (you shouldn’t get dirty), and I loved every second of fixing up that bicycle.

Last weekend my 49 year old beginner bike mechanic self took a trip to Greenville with my Bicycle Friday friends.  It was suggested that while there, we take a trip to Pedal Chic, which we later found out was the first woman owned bicycle shop in the United States.   You can read more about the founder of Pedal Chic here:

Please take some time to read her story.  But what I want to mention is how I felt going to Pedal Chic.  It was the answer to my ten year cynical girl self’s question, “wait, should girls get dirty?”

Yes.  Absolutely.  Girls should get dirty.  Girls should grease ball bearings and change tires.  They should ride bikes and fix them.  They should have black under fingernails and not be sure if it can come out.  I walked into that store and looked at the wheel and chain chandelier, the bar on the end, the fashionable kit, and yes, the stylish bike shop and I understood.  This place was made for me.  The women I work with, my Bicycle Friday group that rides every week with a whole bunch of spunky children, we all stood there looking around that store like our souls were being fed.  Every inch of that store called to me.

That day we began at Pedal Chic, where we got Heather’s tire pumped, got some gear, and found our hearts desire at a tiny bike shop in Greenville, SC, which, eight years ago, became the first women owned bike shop in the United States. It’s right on the Swamp Rabbit Trail in the heart of Greenville, so it’s not very difficult to find.  If you are ever in the area, please visit.  Stay for a minute.  Have some wine.  I promise, that this little store that was built from someone’s heart, in the heart of downtown Greenville, right next to the falls, will make your day.