portrait of a semi-urban childhood by o&poecormier

last week was all eulogies and elegies with a literary weekend to boot. a whirl.

now, i am spun out…a top fallen over. i want to hide in the corner awhile, collect dust.

but it is a holiday. children home. beds to strip, laundry to hang. walks to take, with two little bikes. one without pedals. one soon to lose its training wheels, but not yet.

we live in the middle of a small city, not quite the charming old downtown, but not quite a full-blown residential neighbourhood, either. we look out onto the corrugated tin of the liquor store. the bones of an apartment building are currently rising where the motorcycle chop shop used to sit, praise be. our neck of the woods is not fancy, but it is damned convenient. we are zoned mixed-use. if i should decide to open a hair salon or a tattoo parlour, it’ll be perfect.

we are one street over from the local Co-op. i came here as a kid with my grandmother, for King Cole tea and canned soup and jello parfaits. only this past winter did they renovate, leaving a nook in the parking lot where the first automatic doors i ever marvelled at now sit unused. this forty foot indent of asphalt is suddenly our own, untrafficked, enclosed almost on three sides. a personal pavement paradise, in the after-supper evenings when we take the kids to ride. or sit, if little legs get tired. Oscar rides alongside the row of concrete barriers, pretending to deliver milk. we admire the tags and graffiti left behind by those who claim the space after we are long abed.

Dave grew up on a dead-end road in a town of three hundred souls. when he bikes alone, he goes for the trail, the wilderness, a space of living things. someday, they will go with him.

for today, we make our tiny pilgrimages to the parking lot.

where did you learn to ride a bike? where do your kids ride? do you have public spaces that feel – in moments – like yours?