Escape from Glenview


My life of travel began with a Sears Free Spirit bicycle.  It was red, white and blue in anticipation of the bicentennial, still two years away.  I felt the bike and I were kindred spirits in our freedom and said this out loud to an older girl at a party. Oops. I guess there was a lot of laughter and eye rolling behind my back but I was oblivious.  I was sincere and innocent in my quest for free spiritness and at 15 had the flawed habit of over sharing. Corny but true.  I was a free spirit and that bike was my vehicle to adventure.

There wasn’t much to do in and around Glenview.  Shopping for record albums. Movie. Bowling. Going to a friend’s house and listening to music.  Hanging out at one of the many forest preserves or the infamous Beck lake, drinking beer and smoking, with one eye on cop alert. Most of these activities required a ride from the parents, except the forest preserve. That was top-secret!  While all those things were fun they were not enough.

For me the answer for adolescent boredom was the bicycle.  I would ride to the city , 40 miles round trip, alone and explore. My passion was vintage clothing, record stores and handmade jewelry.  There was a legendary vintage clothing store called Briar house run by a tall beautiful gay man with sexy deep voice. He was someone out of an old Hollywood movie and every time I’d come in to shop he’d pour me a glass of wine. Wow! It was the most grown up experience I’d ever had.  I’d come home with amazing treasures. Black beaded dress, wide-brimmed hat with feathers, rhinestone jewelry…traipsing down the hall to math class.

There was a sense of accomplishment to travel so far on a bike. No one that I knew was doing it except for those I had coerced into coming along. It felt a little reckless and definitely against the rules. Actually, I was breaking rules that hadn’t been laid down as my parents never imagined I would venture so far. Once, I played pied piper to three friends and led their bicycle caravan all the way to Broadway and Diversey. One friend was riding a Schwinn Stingray with a banana seat which was considered a little kids bike. We snaked our way to the city while singing the entire David Bowie Ziggy Stardust album. The journey was more memorable than what we did when we got there. I can still remember exactly how I felt: ecstatically happy and totally free.

The bicycle experience was and is a sensory one. Being out in the open air, the scent of flowers and the aroma of food wafting out of restaurants while traveling slow enough to see the details of life that are missed in a car. It is living in the moment at its finest and for me that is the truest experience of travel. No past, no future and only the joy of now.


5 Responses to “Escape from Glenview”

  1. 1 Inga May 14, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Your words bring a picture to my mind that makes me want to time travel back and join the caravan to the city!

  2. 3 Una May 14, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    What a wonderful story and illustration. Thank you for sharing.

  3. 5 Robert May 18, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Great story. My first taste of bike freedom was on a Schwinn Stingray. Not only did the bike itself set me free, I used it on my paper route and that money also came in handy (so I could buy things like Ziggy Stardust! To this day, my favorite shirt to wear on my bike is a Schwinn jersey…

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