View From a Bench at Quarry View Park Off E. Old Penitentiary Road

View From a Bench at Quarry View Park Off E. Old Penitentiary RoadI have been in Boise, Idaho this week, my hometown, visiting my family for the past few days. I haven’t been here in almost three years, and I haven’t spent more than about a week in this place since 1993. I didn’t ride a bike around here much as a kid, though this is where I got my first bike–a white one with a purple banana seat, Miss GTO in sparkles on the chain guard. I was so jealous of E.’s yellow Schwinn–I think even then I had a sense that my gender wasn’t quite “sparkle.” Then there were the matching 10 speeds, I don’t remember the brand, that we rode to and from our jobs at McDonald’s and were supposed to ride to school, but didn’t. Mine (or hers) got stolen once, but our dad came to the rescue and snatched it back from the backyard a block over. My memories of here, though, are surprisingly bicycle-free. But five days here without a bicycle as my full grown self? No chance. I finally got to ride today, straight down the hill and down 15th Street, past Washington Elementary and S.’s house, visceral memories of Easter in her backyard; she always had my favorite special treat waiting. I snaked my way through the neighborhoods, past the thrift store where I got my first flannel shirts and bought a book about philosophy once, because my big brother studied philosophy, past B.’s house, my early best friend before I knew what it meant to be best friends. I crossed State Street, took a right past Madison Elementary where I first learned that like most girls, I wasn’t good at math, and then past the house where I grew up; they’ve cut back the lilac tree considerably, and the baby trees are full grown. I took a left toward The Park By Our House to the McDonald’s where I worked that is now a gay bar–how appropriate–and through downtown and out past East Junior High, which isn’t there anymore. I pedaled out Warm Springs and took a rest on a park bench in this park that wasn’t there when I was, next to the Old Idaho State Penitentiary where I first learned to be afraid of prisons. I sat and sat and thought and sat and talked to N. on the phone and looked at this view–we don’t have this view out east–and then mom called me home. I rode as fast as I could, a direct route, and waited on the corner for the right white van to pull up. I put the bike in the back and drove us to the grocery store and then back up the hill. Yeah, I don’t want to ride up this thing. I wish I had my Surly with me and a whole lot more time to see what other ways Boise and I have changed.

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