S'il vous plait

The writer situates himself.

How wonderful to be one of the people who have lived, who have been given the opportunity to encode thought and feeling and transmit, to you. Reader, I salute and thank you.

I write tonight from an almost indescribable feeling of pleasant dislocation, not entirely self inflicted. Three things brought me to my desk. The latent feeling of...apartness from my own experience. Music. My 2020 Spotify playlist is surprisingly good, having been filtered through the hardest year of my life. Right now I'm countin' flowers on the wall, how perfect? Finally, a thought struck me while I was cycling through the deserted streets of Manchester at about 0200.

This is me fairly unvarnished, and perhaps not entirely cohesive, I ask your forgiveness.

The writer approaches the "What?"

The thought was, "What if my main character, more animal than man but both, discovered as I have the simple joy of tooling around on a bicycle late at night through the city? Can I write this in?"

The answer of course is yes, I can do what I like, but I'm not sure I will. I will, for sure, write something of it here now though.

Christmas Eve, 0040, I got a message about my dad that was hard to read, hard to process, hard to act upon. Nothing dramatic, but hard. I reflected, I decided, I reached out to my friend for help which I'm sure to receive (I'm grateful to have such good friends), and after a few moments thought, I decided to get out on my bike into the cold night and make a nightling of myself. From my living room to the saddle in ten minutes. This is a thing I have begun to do sometimes. I have a horse with no name, made of metal.

I cycled through and around, choosing my route arbitrarily (I live in the city centre). Flat line out, circle back through the town, then a question, do you go home, do you want to see what there is to see? There's so little to see that everything in the psychosphere is bigger. Is that a fox? I'm riding towards two people shouting, do I turn away? What are they doing in that car, they're watching me? Ultimately it's me, the bike, the road, the night, this city. The city that I know best in the world but that cannot be called my friend, exactly. I guess it's more like family. A third parent, loving and occasionally unkind.

There's a series of hills to the north of the city centre, and I've recently discovered this joy of taking short rides at night for no other reason than it feels good and I can (two reasons?). Three weeks ago, for the first time, I noticed that it was possible to fly back home down the set of hills and ride in quite an uninhibited way. Because of lockdown, the streets are so quiet. Even though a cyclist should always be careful, there are almost no cars on the road at all. You need to maintain situational awareness, but you can ride freely along streets and roads that this is usually not possible on. I get a feeling of flow on the bike.

I like to ride my bike with no hands. A long time ago I saw a man do this, he was riding in front of me and I could see his hands were free. Ah, I thought, a man of culture. He hit a bump in the road and bailed pretty hard, but there was no traffic danger. We were both taking back roads that avoid a notoriously accident prone district. I helped him up, he was wrapped in the bike, cuts and bruises. I keep that memory as a warning to myself. Like a scar that reminds you to be careful.

Two weeks ago, in the dark, quiet, cold night, I was travelling at speed and I threw my arms outspread and rode the hill down. I may have closed my eyes for a few seconds at a time. Don't @me. A great feeling of freedom took me, the part of myself that watches myself shrank to a small bright flame that said only "This is good, be careful".

Keeping your core tight, with a good hill and no traffic, it's possible to sail down a road for some time. Your arms out at your side catch the breeze of your motion, and make you feel very present. The awareness that it will take an extra split second to take control of the bike if you need to, makes you watch the environment and check your setting on the bike in a more focused way that is a perfect counterpoint to the feeling of exhilaration.

Three weeks ago, also at around 0200, I flew past a pedestrian, a man, and wondered "What would he think, if he looked up and saw me?". I hoped he would feel happy. It would have made me happy to see someone doing what I was doing.

There is an element of self destruction in this, but it's not about that, and it beats alternatives. it's joyful. I feel...

The writer grasps blindly for a synthesis.

...I'm in the chat with Browncoat and Bookreader right now, talking about giving blood. Browncoat faints. She literally tries to give her blood away and passes out. Isn't that beautiful? We (humans) try. We go out of our way and push ourselves to give our blood away to a stranger. I love getting a text message a couple of weeks after and being told that somebody has been given my blood. The connection here is the self destruction. Sometimes I lie in the donation chair and meditate, try to maintain my blood pressure and imagine a swarm of hungry ghosts feasting on me, or wonder what would happen if I fell asleep and somebody cut the IV and let me bleed out.

Ultimately the self destruction is just, there. It's not what the experience is centred on, but it's there. There is a feeling not often talked about which may approach...not total annihilation of self, but giving oneself away, little pieces at a time.

Thanks again for reading. Merry Christmas, you filthy animals.

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