Back in high school, I drove to school every day. I never really liked driving, but I did it for the convenience and for the music. In the car I could belt the lyrics to my favorite song that week without worrying about anyone hearing my mediocre-at-best singing voice. It made the ridiculously early morning drives actually enjoyable, and it was even better when I was driving home after school with my day over.
After coming to Stanford, I figured my musical commutes were over. Since I wasn’t driving, I wouldn’t even be listening to music. Or so I thought. I quickly realized that if I planned on biking up any tiny hill whatsoever I would need music to survive the arduous journey and overcome the challenge presented by my shocking lack of muscle mass. And so I bike with music.
There’s just one tiny problem. Something about the combination of commuting to class and listening to music just brings out this uncontrollable urge to perform whatever song I’m listening to as dramatically as possible. The funny thing about this urge is how sneaky it is. It starts with a little head bop once my dorm is out of sight. Then, I start mouthing the words unconsciously. If it’s a song I really like, mouthing the words quickly morphs into quiet singing under my breath. By the time I hit Panama Street, it takes all of my energy to avoid breaking out into a full-on song and dance combo at an intense volume, accompanied by sweeping arm movements.
Keep in mind, I have very little, if any, talent for either singing or dancing, so if I gave in to these urges, I would look like an overconfident 12-year-old at a middle school dance and sound like a cat whose tail is being stepped on repeatedly. On top of this, I’m typically biking very quickly because I’m trying to avoid being late for class. Picture this middle schooler and cat combo pedaling furiously past you while being noticeably out of breath and you’ll begin to approximate what I can be at my full potential. Given that this is not exactly the best image to project to half of campus at 9:30 in the morning, I definitely try to bike normally as much as possible, despite how much of a struggle it can be when a really good song starts playing.
Biking at night, however, is an entirely different beast. The beauty of biking at night, particularly on a late trip back to my dorm from the library, is that there is almost no one else out. Not only does this mean that there is no one to see me biking like a crazy person, but it also means any erratic movements caused by the fact that I’m dancing and definitely not holding on to my handlebars doesn’t pose a danger to my health and that of those around me. Again, for obvious reasons, I still show a considerable amount of restraint, but definitely less than during the daylight hours.
So, if you’re ever wondering who the girl in overalls and a beanie biking past you while singing and dancing badly is, it could very well be me.
Contact Kiara Harding at kiluha ‘at’ stanford.edu.