Tying the knot

Commentary

Everyone assures you that there’s no pressure. As a matter of fact, this very statement makes my heart stop for a few seconds. Why the reassurance for something that isn’t an issue to begin with? This catch-22 forms the very core of Cypriot culture: don’t worry too much, but we’re watching you; don’t stress yourself about it, we’re already stressed out for you; no need to push yourself, we’ll push you. At times it feels as if living my life is a vicariously shared experience with half the people in this town. Oh wait, facebook granted me that.

But let me give facebook some credit. If anything, facebook redefined relationships: single and looking, it’s complicated because I’m that cool or in a relationship and it’s serious. Recently, on my newsfeed more and more relationship status changes are creeping up: from relationship to engaged and, lo and behold, from engaged to married! Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing better than seeing friends living their version of happily ever after but does this happy ending have to happen to everyone at the same time? My savings account pleads otherwise.

Add all of this in the real dimension and you’ve got yourself set up for moments of awkwardness. Last week we were in a bit of a pickle, my boyfriend and I. Seated at a local alternative hotspot with a couple of friends, drinking our wine and fooling around, we thought the alcohol had gone to our head when we saw a ring on our friend’s finger. We were flabbergasted but elated, we were delirious and exploded in riotous laughter: it was a moment of utter and complete joy.

But then.

Yes, then as we were about to toast to new beginnings, my significant other and I were the odd ones out. It didn’t matter, really, but it was an “all-eyes-are-on-you” kind of moment, and my boyfriend, not one to disappoint, was tactfully trying to remove the perrier bottle cap ring in mock-engagement to a life of gas and bottled liquified happiness. Sure, no pressure.

So here I am, hanging out here at the bottom of the barrel and I am simply echoing we are still young. Can we move to a new dimension, where I am still armed with the element of surprise and I can actually move beyond the tight little squares under my feet that dictate my directionless movement? When I get there, I’ll update my facebook status. Watch for it in your newsfeed.

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Keeping the balance

Commentary

Photo by poca-traça

I’d like to say that as I ride my bicycle past manic drivers and clouds of CO2 everything blurs as I become one with my vehicle. In reality the only thing that keeps me focused is my inner mantra: Keep your balance, don’t topple over. A quick pause is enough to start me thinking of the small tyre width, the slight swerve that might send me flying into the windscreen of the speeding car jetting down the other lane. No, the fears of the modern cyclist cannot easily be assuaged — they keep the adrenaline at an all-time high.

I only recently bought a bicycle and it’s true that you never forget how to ride one even if it’s been decades since you’ve been on an uncomfortable saddle. As I started cycling again I realized that I am invisible! Owning a bike has its burdens and this is perhaps its heaviest one. Yes, I can cycle close to the curb but sometimes it seems I might as well be riding on it. I could, but pedestrians have an even bigger problem recognizing that cyclists have their own pavement rights too. Cycling lanes? A luxury for Cyprus that is simply non-existent. Why create a new lane when we’re only just starting to fix up our roads? It feels like cycling through a mine field avoiding those crater-like potholes.

I know the solution is simple; I can protect my brain and other body partsby wearing protective gear. This has its advantages. For starters, I know I look like the biggest dork on the planet and immediately think that there’s no way anyone could avoid spotting this knight in plastic armor on the road. It’s my saving grace — I look like such an idiot, it’s began to feel reassuring.

Riding the streets of Larnaca is a dangerous enough feat as it is, and add to that my natural gift of clumsiness and you have a recipe for a potentially serious disaster. But I combat this with carefully planned routes; I consider the quieter streets, I wear my brightest clothes and as a car brushes by I hold my breath for good luck and good measure. As I cycle vehemently through streets with no name to meet friends for coffee I know that by the time I arrive I’ll be sticky with sweat and my knee might be scraped, if not bleeding. I know I’ll lock my bike against a tree I can see while I’m sitting, and then make my bruised way towards the table waiting for my disheveled company impatiently.

It’s always nice to make an entrance, at least.