Being in Virginia makes me think often of home, of the eccentric, tightly-knit web of music that is New York. Every morning I slide down the flow of sunshine that filters through my window– unhumid and warm. Here, cars are the center of the universe. In my head, I collide those steel cages.

I miss the thrill of New York, the buildings that spiral upwards, the people that glide up and down the West Side Highway, having run the same path a million times over. I miss the rides through the city on the back pegs of my sister’s red Haro BMX, going the wrong way during rush hour, colors plastering themselves against the city. One night in particular I never thought I was going to die so many times as we closed a cab door, almost crashed into another biker, and almost slammed into a bus, sprawling towards Union Square in a line of vibrations that gave some semblance of beauty.

Union Square– the place we gathered for my first Critical Mass. Weaving through the streets, we cast our troubles to the never truly black night. We occupied car lanes, reclaiming the streets. A stream of colors mounted on spinning silver, we flooded the streets with tinkles and joy. When the police came, my sister started tugging me away as they took out their pepper spray, chasing us– breaking us. Bikes– dirty, polished, big, small– slipped down one another as they were thrown on trucks. But the ride continued, chased by blinking lights. Chased by sirens that scream like children.

We pass through a dark tunnel, and we are screaming along to The Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop, blasted through stereos strapped to strong shoulders. Rebels of the night, we escape the steel cages chasing us down. In my head, I tell myself that this is now. But in reality, I am still in Virginia, still starved of the carefree summer nights of my childhood.

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