#461, Marine Park, Santa Monica

I was psyched riding my bike over to Marine Park, everything in synch. Brakes worked, wheels turned, gears geared. I had my helmet and gloves and a bolt lock to make me feel over 90 percent safe and secure. I am still a little rattled from my last collision, when this guy opened his car door into the bike path and I smashed into it, even though that’s getting on almost a year ago. Fortunately, I popped right up and got out of the way of oncoming traffic and came away with nothing worse than a kind of cool Africa-shaped bruise on my butt, and a heightened sense of wariness.

Wariness is not a bad thing while riding your bike in LA.

Riding to Marine Park was mostly side streets so I am going to bump up my safe and secure rating to a solid 95. Anything higher than that is delusional but let’s not worry. There really is something about bike riding that is the next best thing to flying for a day-to-day human being. Bike riding is also great for connection to little-kid self, what a blast, training wheels off, grown-up who was pushing you left way behind. How does it feel? To be on your own? It feels great!

I had two racquets and a fresh can of balls stashed in my new bright yellow panniers, or saddle bags. I love panniers for taking a weight off my shoulders and on this particular day I also loved how their bright yellow complemented my lime green sweatshirt and socks, making me feel like the 1973 Oakland Athletics on a bicycle going to play tennis.

Marine Park opens at 8 am so getting there at 7:40 gave me and my new friend N time to get acquainted. We talked quite a bit about tooth enamel, which his wife is studying how to regenerate naturally. This is of interest to me as a tooth-grinder. I feel so flow-through in my mind but my jaws feel differently, and they’re allowed. There is so much to be disconcerted about nowadays; if my distress has to express itself subconsciously, so be it.

Meanwhile, N and I simultaneously frolicked and competed, with me feeling satisfied overall with how I was placing my serve. I like the courts at Marine Park, especially the one adjacent to the Santa Monica Community Gardens, which had kale and carrots and collard greens galore. There was a hint of manure in the air. Bracing!

On the bike ride back I passed the baseball fields again and reflected about one more thing I like about my current quest, which is that it gets me out of my backyard. Towards the end of my baseball playing career, most of my best exploits involved tossing up and swatting whiffle balls in my backyard, by myself. That was exhilarating but in a very isolated and honestly a little bit lonely way. Now I am way more out and about among people and I feel like this, along with my tennis game gradually getting better, is another reason why even though I am in my sixties, my life is still improving.

Published by MarkGozonsky

Mark Gozonsky is the author of The Gift is to the Giver: Chronicles of a 21st Century Decade (Keppie Usage, 2022). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Sun, and Lit Hub. Mark’s essay, “Gritty All Day Long,” is anthologized by Norton and featured in Best American Sports Writing. He has been writing since his emergence as a gigantic music nerd in early-1970’s San Antonio, Texas. Stints as a regular commentator on public radio’s Marketplace and Internet 1.0 exec preceded a 20-year run as a public school teacher. Marko’s favorite writing topics include unorthodox pedagogy, well-intended gardening, and the intersection of baseball and urban bicycling. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he is working on a new book about his quest to play tennis on every free public court in LA.

2 thoughts on “#461, Marine Park, Santa Monica

  1. Usually when I am about to go Bob I think, wait, no, write about how you actually feel but in this case the two impulses coincided and you even noticed, which is v. life-affirming, thank you.

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