‘In the Bike’s Place Was a Lock That Had Been Cut in Half’

Yellow Handlebars

Dear Diary:

Yellow handlebars, blue frame, golden rubber-rimmed tires and a rear rack. Forty years old and in mint condition.

A Craigslist ad directed me to her during a summer at home. Bike shortage no more: I had found my wheels.

There was no room for the bike in my Hell’s Kitchen apartment — there was barely enough for my bed — so out on the street she stayed. It was my first mistake as a bike owner in the city.

Ready for a 7 a.m. spin, I pulled on my spandex, filled my water bottle and jogged downstairs. In the bike’s place was a lock that had been cut in half like a stick of butter.

I began to scour lost-bike pages on Instagram and websites obsessively. In the meantime, I found a second set of wheels. Two months passed, and I continued to scroll.

At one point, a picture caught my eye: dozens of bikes piled up under an overpass. The caption said they had been taken to the 20th Precinct.

I looked more closely, and there it was: yellow handlebars, blue frame, golden rubber-rimmed tires and a rear rack.

Now I have two bikes in my Hell’s Kitchen apartment. Who needs a bed anyway?

— Hunter Travers

Steps of the Met

Dear Diary:

I was walking off a full day spent in front of screens, reacquainting myself with the outside world and natural light.

As I wandered down Fifth Avenue toward the Met, a full moon was coming up and a summer breeze tugged at the archway of trees. It was a remarkable improvement from three hours earlier.

A lone accordion player was swaying to his music at the bottom of the museum steps. He seemed to be enjoying his evening so much that I sat down to do the same. The notes of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” floated through the air, overlaying the rush of the fountains.

If he was aiming for tips, he had certainly picked a sparse time of day. But as he played, an older couple paused, and then stopped. The doormen across the street edged closer. Three teenagers dropped down on their skateboards.

Eventually, the accordion player waved good night to the security guards. He loaded his instrument into the back of a parked cab. Then, he got into the driver’s seat and turned the light on.

Down the next block, a woman in heels flagged him down.

— Lucy Cross

Winter Walk

Dear Diary:

Very early one dreary, dark winter morning, my daughter, Sadie, and I were walking to her school.

From just behind me, Sadie asked if my heel was cold.

“No,” I said. “Why?”

“There’s a hole in your tights,” she said.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, we both heard a female voice asking whether I needed an extra pair of tights.

“What?” I said, turning to see the woman who had asked.

She pulled out three pairs of black tights and offered me one.

Shaking off my surprise, I accepted, thanked her and wore them the rest of the day.

— Jane Silverman

Jingling Keys

Dear Diary:

After a pickup at school in Manhattan, I rode a rush-hour F to Queens with my daughters.

The train was packed. The baby started screaming. There was a collective groan among the other passengers.

When toys failed to pacify her, I jingled my keys. That made her squeal with laughter, but she would wail when I stopped for even a second.

By the time we got to Jackson Heights, the train had started to empty out. It was silent except for the keys’ rhythmic jangle.

A new passenger got on.

“What’s with the keys?” he shouted, not holding back on the expletives.

I stopped mid-jingle, but then other people jumped to my defense.

“Don’t listen to him!”

“Jingle away!”

“Go ahead, lady, jingle!”

One man who had been riding the train the whole way put his hand to his heart.

“You are a beautiful mother,” he said.

I gave the keys one last shake. The baby was fast asleep.

— Jess deCourcy Hinds

Electric Circus

Dear Diary:

The man I have now been married to for more than 50 years and I were still dating at the time. We were walking along lower Fifth Avenue on a Saturday evening when a car pulled up.

“Where is the Electric Circus?” the people in the car yelled out.

For those who don’t know, the Electric Circus was a nightclub on St. Marks Place that was a popular destination for the city’s hippie culture in the late 1960s.

My husband explained where it was.

“How is it?” they asked after thanking him.

He had never been and in fact disdained such establishments, but he answered anyway.

“It’s great,” he said. “You’ll love it.”

After they drove off, I asked him why he had said that.

“They were going anyway,” he said. “Why spoil it?”

— Michelle Braverman

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Illustrations by Agnes Lee

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