Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bike Theft; and, An Elusive Wholeness, A Paralyzed Ambition

Last Thursday, December 18, I rode bike, an old red bike in good condition, loaned to me by an aunt, to St. Martinville. There wasn't much of a wind and it was a mostly pleasant ride. I did some research and other work at the library in town. I was at the library for several hours and saw the bike shortly before I planned to leave, about 4 p.m., and I did a few more things on computer and put away a magazine and when I walked out the door, about 4:30 p.m., the bike wasn't where I left it, though it had a lock around the chain (and the wheel on which the chain turns) that made its back tire impossible to turn. I had seen a young man enter the library--wearing a black T-shirt with the word "Cajun" on it and tan pants (he was black, so that's why I noted the word Cajun and the pants may have been dirty near the leg bottoms); and he used the rest room. He might have taken it. I'm trying to recall, as well, if I saw anything else, such as a truck near the bike. From the library, I called the police department and a policeman came, took a brief report, drove alone around the nearby blocks, then took me home. He and I talked about the theft and also about the costs of being an artist. He said most of his family are educators and his wife is a writer. He said that being a policeman, he is a rarity in his family, although he did study art in school (and he couldn't see being a starving artist with three children, as he has). He told me he would keep an eye open for the bike. It is easy to feel, following the theft, both foolish and furious--and weak and wrathful. It's hard not to think that I should have gone outside to check on the bike periodically--to discourage any watchers; or that I should have left the library sooner. It's a telling thing: I had just been thinking days before that it might have been a sign of the difference between New York and Louisiana that the bike hadn't been stolen, as I had twice forgotten to put the lock on the bike, once in New Iberia, and once in Loureauville, but the bike remained where I put it both times, though I had left it for several hours each time. (The lock was on it when it was taken in St. Martinville. Following the theft, someone told me, That would happen in St. Martinville.) It's hard not to feel vulnerable and violated, and apprehensive about seeing someone with the bike. I half-hoped that the bike would be returned to the library (because the lock will make it inoperative, if it cannot be removed). I told my aunt, she who loaned me the bike; and she was understanding. My sister offered one of her family's bikes (they are in a shed on my mother's property). The theft has been unsettling; and I had trouble sleepiing for several nights afterward. The theft reminds me of some basic things: the need of personal transportation here, rather than the public transportation so easy to find in New York; my own limited funds and options (I cannot afford a car now); and the desperation and malice that often overtakes people (why steal someone else's proprerty; and why take and keep something that you cannot use?) . One keeps expecting the future to be better, for one's fortunes to rise, for one's neighbors to be transformed into a community; and the present, which is yesterday's future, remains as frustrating as ever.