Why is my bike commute so awesome? It's partly my bike, which is a beauty. I went out to Cooperative Fahrrad in the Gumpendorferstrasse, a first-rate street name if I ever heard one, and bought myself a real cool old lady's bike. Like, if Miss Gulch one morning suddenly took a yoga class and got a mani-pedi, this is what her bike would look like: big and not fast and made for those rough Kansas rural roads (or the cobblestones of the Ringstrasse) and yet a snazzy white with unnecessarily cool leather handgrips. There's a bike path along the entire Ring as well as along the Donaukanal, so it's smooth sailing for me all the way to work. As the air gets cooler and the leaves start to change, the chilly mornings grow more precious, and the pedals beneath my work shoes and the wind in my face take me right back to Union Street and my first bike, my September path to Sibley Elementary, the thrilling freedom that came along with that first set of wheels, with getting there by myself. I feel giddy every time I ride, about twelve years old, tops.
No bike riding today, however, with the rain coming down and the gray fog of autumn beginning to settle over Vienna. Saturday started on the streetcar and continued in a morning of piano practice and an afternoon of "The Wire" episodes and Skyping with family. I looked at online pictures of the flooding in downtown Northfield, recognizing some familiar faces among the locals sandbagging a riverside bar against the rising water. I savored the memory of last night's dinner party which was full of great food, new friends, and lots of music (including MtMn). Tomorrow is my first recital at the Opera, with two young ensemble members.
Preparing to make music, taking a little leisure, keeping in touch with my faraway family, enjoying the company of engaging and warm people that generous fate puts unfailingly into my path. This could be a weekend at any time, in any city. There is sudden joy, sharp and unspectacular, in finding this familiarity.
The window is open to the rainy night, the wind in my face. Freedom.