[Inspired by an astonishing piece from the very first issue of Outside magazine.]
I come to everything on a slant, straight lines seeming to curve into one another like arched backs. Massachusetts Avenue runs arrow straight through Central Square before curving down toward MIT, but riding fast along the eastbound curb I imagine the road as a bundle of fibers or cords converging to a point somewhere up ahead. I feel that I'm being watched; the road takes on a concave shape, dark asphalt like a mirrored lens. Pulling up at Albany Street I stop behind another rider, young, an MIT student I'm guessing - her hair unfashionably long and untended under a new red bike helmet, like a security blanket. A bent pylon falls over on the sidewalk and she glances up; I lean over, desperate suddenly to catch sight of her face. Is she -- But I'm not sure what I'm asking. She turns back toward the street, then looks to the far sidewalk, and I see her face finally: Untended. Hidden. My curiosity fades instantly; I kick the bike forward when the light changes and a block later she turns off, or I do. I feel nothing at all.
I had an opinion about Sarah Vaughan before I ever heard her sing. I thought that was important, then. I think it's important now to tell you that my opinion happened to be spot on. 'I'd rather be lucky than smart,' because lucky men look smart sometimes - but even a smart man can't change his luck.
At night sometimes I ride up and down Mass Ave hoping to catch sight of things without knowing in advance what they are. I learned the word flâneur in college; I was supposed to want to be that thing, but I've come to a state of being without the benefit of terminology. Now I just ride, and hope. But I generally don't catch things. Voyeuristically I'm top predator - the definition of 'voyeuristically' you might say - but a component of whatever fantasies animate me is that I'm also being watched. I wish to be watched but not seen. More than anything I wish to make my wishes known; not to validate the content of any fantasy, but to be allowed to allow myself fantasy's comfort. The thrill of orgasm all the time without the mess, is what I guess I'm saying.
Other nights I ride slowly through Harvard Square, between academic buildings and among professors' houses (and the back rooms where lecturers and adjuncts rent month-to-month). Stage lighting in every colour on every side. When the street is rainslick I focus on not falling over and the world seems to straighten up, spinelike. I worry too much about falling to let myself feel like sliding. When something is at stake. My fantasies are not that durable - they are their own place, not an overlay or layer of imagistic data atop the hand-and-foot world, and I am an isolationist when it comes to this imagined country of mine. I'm thirty pounds lighter there, and I've remembered to remember certain things that my oldening body has forgotten, starting with: I am a hunter. My fantasies aren't the jungle nor the sea. They're a goddamn nature preserve.