A Boy and Her Bike
We’ve all had two lives now: a past life and this one. I currently look forward to the third, after this is done. In the past life, I was a multi-disciplinary performer. It was a privilege and personal need to be always in the creation process and use my skills in circus acrobatics and dance to change the perspective of a few people in the audiences I’d perform for. For the first time I felt a sense of “making it” since moving here from the midwest eight years ago. When Covid-19 hit, live performance all disappeared as did the precious medium of energy exchange that went with it. My public and sole purposes (and income) were erased.
In my history with depression, I needed to keep moving somehow. I had no desire to do any circus training and felt almost mini-drafted to return to bike delivery during this time. I needed to help the community and make some wages. I had delivery experience, why not? I was at a low- risk for the disease, and there were people who needed delivery services in the high-risk groups! I bought my bike the next day (named by its previous owner “The Mule”, it had helped pull his family around for 15 years) and hit the road with some delivery apps.
My Mule and I have been out every day. I have felt the changes in the city’s energy throughout the quarantine. There was a sense of togetherness in the early stages, but I can tell you that has been wiped out (unless it is seven o’clock cheer time, that saves my soul every day and riding through it is magical). Navigating the negative energy of others (and honestly myself at this point) leaves me exhausted. It takes less than usual for New Yorkers to yell at each other; our patience with one another ran out weeks ago. Everyone is experiencing this to some extent. As you can imagine, it becomes very apparent when you are out being bashed around by compulsive yelling and annoyances for hours on the job, not to mention the couples openly fighting in the streets (I have hope that we all can remember our favorite word: empathy!).
The job itself is far different in this contact-free delivery world than it was some years back. I’ve had some warm interactions with people; admonishments to “stay safe out there” from behind a closed door, being told I’m appreciated. I don’t see many people. We leave the food outside the apartment door or on the stoop (which leaves some people annoyed as well). It becomes very isolating to work in this way because there’s not as much energy exchange, though is clearly necessary in these times. This isolation is an aspect of so many jobs right now, and it leaves me terrified and inspired that we’ve adapted to this. Will we forget the importance of person-to- person interactions to some extent?
Finding my own way through this is a journey that continues. My studies with APS have helped to fill my mind with more useful thoughts than the doldrums of my depression (which escalated as far as to call it my third true episode with the illness). I never thought my pursuit of peer support would synchronize with my own relapse, but I find myself grateful. Biking keeps me active and outside while delivering an essential service. At this moment, I try to trust that I am doing a service for others and myself. I do not feel it often anymore, as a numbness settled into many of my emotions. I feel the abrupt changes crushing the person I knew myself to be. Most of us are experiencing a rewiring in our sense of self. This is always happening but now at a spellbinding pace. Continuing to plow through it, we become exhausted. A goal in my writing this was to be true to my current life even though it is not uplifting, but I do maintain this hope for us: We’ve all had many lives. Coming to terms with this one can be done.