I ran away to Germany once. My friend Christiane was living in Heidelberg, and I was messed up on some girl, so I figured I'd go see her. Well, at least I think I was messed up on some girl. I had with me two Modest Mouse records and a copy of Catcher In The Rye, so I must've been messed up on something. But it was a while back now, and the things you get messed up on tend to get a little messed up themselves as they get further away.
When I arrived she wasn't home, but she'd left a note informing me that as her housemate had left the country, I could stay in her room. I could also use her bike if I liked. The house was a pretty typical student flat, with new carpet and a strange toilet. The bike was a ladies step through that had seen better days. I pumped up the tyres, then took it out into the street and rolled around the neighbourhood until Christiane got home.
Her bike wasn't so crash hot either, but we rolled around town together for the next couple of weeks. It was summer and the weather was fine. We went swimming in the river and ate dinner on the balcony. More often than not we'd be joined by a bunch of her friends, all of them riding step-throughs or old road bikes, inevitably in poor condition. It didn't really matter though. The town was small and the roads were narrow and flat. If something broke down on the way to the river or a party or a cafe we'd find a bike shop and sort it out, or just lock the bike up and dink each other the rest of the way.
This happened to Christiane herself one afternoon. Her brakes were seizing up and the levers wouldn't spring back after she'd squeezed them. We didn't have much money though, so she suggested we go to this place where they loaned you tools and helped you with repairs. As we walked up there I tried to explain to her exactly how inept I am when it comes to tools, but she wouldn't have a bar of it.
We wandered into the place, which was set up in the courtyard of some cafe. I squirted some lube into the brake cables, gave them a squeeze, twisted the barrel adjusters a few times and that seemed to do it. It wasn't much. Anything more probably would've been beyond me. But she looked impressed. She stood beside me, a little closer than usual, said thank you, and slowly leaned over and kissed my cheek.
I think I might've actually blushed.