The man I love is sneaky. Didn’t expect it from him, but there you go. It started out so innocently too…
He picked me up from the airport in February and after hauling my suitcases across town, up three flights of stairs, and into the bedroom he said, “I have a surprise for you.” I thought I saw a little eyebrow wiggle with that statement and thought to myself “I have just spent twenty hours getting here: I know I smell like it, pretty sure I taste like it, and I feel I am not at my most attractive right now. Can he really want THAT now?” Smiling nervously I said “oh yeah?” (witty huh??) He lead me to the living room (hmmm) and said, “Look! I got you a bike!” I was speechless.
I can hear you now. “Aaawww, isn’t that sweet?” There’s more. He lifted a helmet off the couch and told me it should fit, it was too small for him. AND he has extra clothes so I don’t need to worry about that either. All the time he was grinning from ear to ear, so excited to give me the gift of wheels. He didn’t insist on going for a ride immediately (I kinda think he wanted to), but it was just a few days before I realized what I was in for.
As we sat down for breakfast one morning he said, “So, Michele, should we try out your new bike today?” It sure looked like rain to me, and he agreed, but thought we should give it a try soon. This same question was repeated every couple of days for a few weeks before I finally said OK. He wasted no time getting everything I would need in my hands before I changed my mind. And off we went for a short ride. I’m sure it was short, but the cobblestones made the ride feel like it would never end. He said I would get used to it.
Just a few short days later he asked again. Would I like to ride somewhere with him? He asked, I’m sure, because I didn’t take the bike out except when I was with him. Mostly because I was deathly afraid of getting lost. This is not a modern city and it isn’t built on the grid system I’m used to. Streets ramble off in odd directions, they change street names at nearly every intersection and it is difficult to keep your sense of direction because you often lose sight of the sun (narrow streets and tall buildings) He has been persistent about this. When he doesn’t ask if I am riding at breakfast, he asks me at dinner if I went for a ride today, with this kind of hopeful look on his face. I was starting to feel like the Grinch every time I said no.
He has shown me a fairly flat route I can take to get some good miles in, and marked on my map the way to get to the start. He has gone with me now about four times to make sure that I can find my way to the park. Saturday while I talked to my sister he was downstairs cleaning my bike with a toothbrush and making a few slight adjustments. This morning he put me in one of his “Florence by Bike” shirts and dropped me at the park on his way to work. He casually said “Let’s take a picture of you in that shirt,” and so now there I am in spandex in front of some statue with my bike. I’m sure he will share this picture with people and now there is no way I can say, “No, I’m not a biker” because they just won’t believe me.
I really do like riding. It has been the only way I have had to get around for almost two years now. I have nothing against cycling, It's fun and keeps me in shape and in Florence it's actually easier to get around with a bike than with a car. I just know that I am not the kind of cyclist that rides far and fast and actually looks for hills. That's just nuts. But I understand better now. He just wants me to share a little bit in something that he is passionate about.
He came home just as I was finishing this blog about his insidious nature (when it comes to cycling). "Happy birthday!" he said as he handed me something black. He was all excited as he handed me a rack and bag for the back of my bike. “Now you can carry your camera, and a jacket, and food, and your drawing things,” he said with a big smile. See what I mean? Insidious and sneaky and just about the loveliest man on the face of the planet.