Repost of my piece for Peace Corps Thailand Magazine
I was unsure of you at first. A bit timid and anxious about the thought of being stuck with you, every day, for over two years. Then we got off to an awfully rocky start – literally. Our first morning together was wind in my hair, throw my head back, smile at the sun type of bliss. Until that rock flattened us. We eased into this relationship and things improved. This is for you, dear bike. The very best government issued friend.
I arrived at my new home and remember anxiously waiting for you. Until your arrival I was a sitting target. There were no trips anywhere. I was home. ALL. OF. THE. TIME. Then you arrived and suddenly the world felt full of possibilities. First we spent our days meandering the streets that make up my community. We found the local noodle stand. We made the first trek to 7/11. We found the fastest route to the nearest volunteer. We still had our bumps every now and again, but don’t worry! I don’t blame you for chucking me into that ravine and giving me a black eye and broken glasses. After all, I can never repay you for helping me outrun countless neighborhood dogs.
You’ve been with me when we’ve stumbled upon gorgeous temples tucked away on lonely streets. Remember that trip we took to the sunflower fields? It seemed we would never arrive, but we did, as we always have. You’ve been with me on days when tears are streaming down my face and I just need to get away. Day after day you’re there. Day after day you allow me to remember that there is something to be grateful for if I’m willing to leave my house.
About a year into our relationship you began to make some strange sounds. I got so worried about you, but my community helped you out, remember that? They have always been willing to help you out. They heave you into their trucks when they worry about me after dark or when I want to go away for the weekend but I can’t be separated from you. They wave at us as we travel the roads together. They’ve even spent time alongside you, slowing their motorbikes to cycling speed in order to guide us to our destination. You’ve even gotten very comfortable letting my preschoolers walk you to your parking spot every morning before school.
You’ve been clicking more lately. Your tires deflate more quickly. Sometimes, I bring you inside for a good cleaning, but you’ll never really be as shiny as you were on the day we first met. You have a permanent dent now from that tumble we took. Your gear is a bit cracked and sun tinted. Your chain is gunkier than it should be (I’m sorry I’ve neglected you a bit in this way). And yet, I’m reminded of your resilience. It’s a bit strange, isn’t it? This bond we’ve formed. Because during our time together we’ve both become a bit more cracked. Our gears have shifted a bit. We have to be inflated more frequently. I, like you, have been changed by the past two years. Perhaps I’m a little cracked. Maybe a little rougher around the edges. But the beauty is that I wouldn’t change it for the world. We, government issued best friend, have made this home and for that I will be forever grateful.