They say it's like riding a bike. That once you get going, it all comes back to you. Anxiously you grip the handlebars. Reluctantly you set one foot on a pedal. And then you spend five minutes negotiating with your self-doubt about pushing off the curb already.
At first you look like a drunk college kid stumbling home from an all-night kegger. If there were paint on the tires, you're pretty sure your trajectory would spell out "spazz" on the ground behind you. But by the second block, slowing up enough to look both ways for cross-traffic but keeping enough forward momentum to avoid having to stop altogether, something clicks. Indeed, you think as the wind blows your tresses off your neck, it is just like riding a bike.
Except the back tire on my two-wheeler is flat. I know this because I saw its deflated state when I went to my storage closet to return the vacuum cleaner, my duffel bag, a pile of wrapping paper. First I looked up and wondered why I had bothered to hold onto a useless embossed tin container that has sat ignored on my shelf for five years. Then I looked down and saw the tire. The wide nubs pressed flat against the parquet wood floor. A dust bunny the size of an egg clung to the tired rubber. I glanced at the vacuum, the tire, the vacuum, and then turned off the light and closed the door.
In the past I set aside hours, evenings, weekends to write. When an idea came to me, an excitement raced through my veins. I would end a phone call or cancel social plans for the sake of sitting at my computer to say what was swirling around in my head. But ever since finishing graduate school, I've barely written a word. When I come home, I turn on my laptop. Then I kick off my shoes, turn on the television, pour a glass of wine. From across the room, sprawled atop my sofa, I sneer at the humming computer. It's been so long since I've written something I love, I wonder if I still know how to do it.
"I believe you have entire year after graduating with an MFA to feel any guilt about not writing," a good friend and former classmate explained. "You can only stress yourself out after July."
I used to flit between boys, smiling at strangers and purring at handsome passerbys. Flirtation often developed to a date and eventually something more. I would rest my hand on his thigh as we sat side-by-side at a bar debating politics. While he slept peacefully through the night, I would press my lips to the nape of his neck, run my fingertips across the ridge of his spine. It's been so long since I've experienced this, I fear the unused side of my mattress is a full inch taller than the one I occupy. It's been so long that I can't even recall what a passionate kiss feels like.
"It'll happen when you least expect it," my gay friend said as he raised his champagne cocktail to his mouth. "Just continue being fabulous and one of those stupid straight boys will snatch you right up."
Last night I got home and didn't bother to turn on my computer. I didn't worry about writing the last three chapters of my novel. I didn't fret that no dates are planned for the immediate future. For the first time in a while, I stopped worrying about what I was missing. And anyway, it will all come full circle. Someday soon I'll write through the early morning, so excited about my creation that I'll ignore the changing verb tense or ticking clock. Someday soon I'll kiss a boy in my doorway and dismiss my fear that I'll turn my head the wrong way or clink my teeth against his. Someday soon, I say. And it'll be just like riding a bike.