My bike got stolen on the last day of last semester. I was stupid, really. My bike lock broke earlier that week, and after seven days of procrastinating and pushing my luck, my green-and-purple glitter bike with the loose seat and broken breaks was gone.
I was kicking myself about it for days and weeks afterwards. That bike bought me an extra 10 minutes of sleep before my morning classes. I used to take it on the Metro rail, trying to hold it at a precarious perfect angle so the handlebars wouldn’t stab rush-hour commuters. On Valentine’s Day one year, I rode my bike four miles to the nearest Krispy Kreme in an effort to make a grand romantic gesture. The bike was ugly and the doughnuts a little deflated, but that bike took me anywhere I needed to go.
With only one semester of college left, I’ve decided to tough it out for the remainder of the school year. Considering that I’ve only made it to one out of six classes on time, it hasn’t been off to a great start. But the slower pace definitely has some benefits. I love being able to see what’s happening on campus, which is something I never paid much attention to when I zoomed past large gatherings on my bike. I started noticing little things, such as the flowers by the football practice fields and the progress of the construction crews where the Finger Fountain used to be.
My lack of bike ownership has given me an appreciation for walking that is very similar to my appreciation for running. I have always enjoyed running because it gives me a chance to really get to know a place. The storefronts are not just facades that pass by the window of my Uber. That church on 29th Street can’t even contain the Gospel music that resonates from it on Sunday mornings. The children at the daycare there play outside on weekday afternoons — a nice little reminder that we don’t live in a bubble of 20-somethings.
Sometimes I run to Downtown, and it’s shocking how close it is. An easy jog from campus will get me to L.A. Live in 20 minutes. Running, or walking for that matter, also gives me a chance to be spontaneous.
Do I want to see what’s on the menu at that new cafe on Vermont? I take a quick look, see a smoothie that’s an enticing shade of purple and make a resolution to come back when I’m finished sweating for the day. That’s something that definitely would not have happened if I had to go through the inconvenient process of finding a place to lock my bike.
Or take my recent trip to Ralphs. I used to bike there, but it’s so close that there’s really no excuse to use my car. I generally choose to walk or run there now. On the way down Menlo, my boyfriend and I saw a tiny creature walking towards us on the sidewalk. It was black and white and has pointy ears, and at first, we couldn’t tell if it was a cat or a dog. It came closer, and that’s when its features became clear. It was a husky puppy that came bounding up to us and immediately lay at my feet.
The owner told us her name is Khaleesi. She lay on her back for a belly rub and my boyfriend and I eagerly obliged, scratching her belly and massaging her head, trying to earn the love of our new friend. Khaleesi approved. It got to the point where it was a little awkward to be so affectionate with someone else’s dog. We started to walk away, and Khaleesi turned over and ran to catch up with us. She trotted along, as if she also had Oreos to buy at Ralphs. Her owner called her back, and Khaleesi hesitantly went her separate way.
It made my day. A Ralphs run made my day. And to think it all started with a stolen bike.
Meghan Coyle is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism. She is also the digital managing editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Chasing Pavements,” runs Tuesdays.