Please welcome today’s guest writer, Daniel Hickey. Daniel is a bicycle mechanic, musician and writer—all of the above aspiring—currently living and moving in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graduated from Calvin in 2019 with a writing major and a minor in religion. He has a real thing for trash.
This is a little essay about going nowhere.
Quarantine Day Five: Neon-clad roadie zooms past me on the left. Trying to keep up, I really start to turn my pedals—this is the part of the trail where I tend to get lost and turn around, and this guy seems like he knows where he’s going. Mr. Flash leads me off to the right, just where I’ve always gone straight and lost the trail. And we’re off into what’s marked as the “Scenic Drive.” Scenic it is, certainly, with fallen leaves pulling late fall trickery in late March. I’ve lost Speedy to the rolling hills and his obvious violation of the 15 mph speed limit (the first I’ve seen posted specifically for bicycles). It’s just me and the hills now, only a dozen miles or so from home but, at least for a moment, the nowhere I need.
When you are told not to go anywhere but sanity demands that you go somewhere outside your home, going nowhere—going to nowhere, perhaps—is better than nothing. It might even be restorative.
Quarantine Day One: Back and forth in the driveway, I have returned to the blissfully circumscribed recreational life of my six-year-old self. I joke that it’s just like the days of “Just to the fire hydrant and back,” except that I’m twenty-three now, I fall off my bike a bit less frequently, and the limits are self-imposed. I’m out of the house, yes, but I’m not going anywhere. And still, I seem to need this nowhere.
When it is, in fact, your duty not to go anywhere, going to nowhere starts to look like going somewhere. It’s something, at least. For me, these escapes to nowhere by bike have become something of a somewhere, a means for movement to be medicine.
Quarantine Day Nine: This time, nowhere with someone. My housemate sees the about-to-escape look in my eye and asks to join me. We pedal to a favorite spot—Riverside Park on the north side of Grand Rapids—and cautiously take joy in the sheer number of people walking and lounging by the river on a Wednesday afternoon. Nowhere together, all of us. Later, stopped for a snack on a small dock off of the White Pine Trail, we find a mystery while peering through a hole in the floor planks: clams. Tons and tons of clams, half-buried in the silty muck of a recently receded riverbed and empty. Clamshells, then, I suppose. We wonder, albeit briefly, about the story lying beneath our feet. We consider our unintended visit to this obscured clam graveyard, the mystery of an unexpected something. Nowhere together, all of us.
As I finish writing, it’s only Day Eleven. For at least twenty more, unless something really important comes up, I won’t be going anywhere. But I will keep going nowhere.