Before meeting Catherine Deveny in Melbourne last month for #bikeshopeat, she sent me a video where she celebrates atheism. Consequently, I realised how Australian I have become in addition to being Korean and American. Why? Early on in the conversation, I thought I would mention going to church on Sundays and how much I love God, neither of which is true. When she told me later that she loves kimchee, makes kimchee rice often, and suggested that I take some on the plane with me back to Sydney like all good Korean girls should, I realised that I could have and should have.
Catherine is already a convert to the joy and freedom of bicycling. Her beautiful red Lekker bicycle has an electric-motor-conversion tucked into the back pannier. Over a coffee we acquainted ourselves with one another. I found her to be a bit of fresh air. I believe that everything is possible and she is further down that track. My twenty-year career in investment banking has held me back to some degree in comparison. She was full of ideas, events, connections, suggestions, constructive criticism. She encouraged me to self-publish the novel I wrote two years ago which was rejected by all of the major publishers. She told me about her upcoming Love Party where she would be celebrating with her new partner, family and friends. I realised that I had stepped into a universe of confidence, ambition, fun, and possibilities, not unlike my own. Fantastic!
We finished chatting over breakfast in Fitzroy and set off for a bit of shopping. Never one to mince words, Catherine commented that my Gazelle Fuente was ugly. She asked why Gazelle couldn’t improve their designs to be more attractive. In comparison to the Lekker, I had to agree but I’m quite fond of Gazelle’s bicycles. It would take more than that to topple the warm and fuzzy feeling that I have for them.
We set off from Fitzroy chatting along the quiet streets. Like all Melbournians, she cautioned me on the magnetic attraction tram tracks have for bicycle wheels. I followed Catherine and was pleased to recognise Gertrude Street as her preferred method of approach to the city as is mine. And then I nearly had a heart attack. Catherine is a very confident bicyclist. As we approached Nicholson Street and the edge of Carlton Gardens, I stopped at the t-junction. She was ahead of me and went through the red light. Tram tracks run down the middle of Nicholson Street. There was a line of cars just past the tracks, waiting to turn right onto Gertrude Street. There was another lane of traffic which was clear for the moment, which would continue on Nicholson Street. And then I saw a small red Fiat that was quickly approaching at the same time that Catherine was crossing. I had stopped but called out “Catherine” as soon as I saw the Fiat. She didn’t hear me. The shrill sound of the Fiat’s horn ensued. Fortunately, the car stopped, the driver shouted and she sailed through unscathed to the shared footpath/cycleway.
I suspect that because it was Melbourne, where drivers are more accustomed to seeing bicyclists, the driver put his foot on brake, hand on horn and let her pass. I would like to think the same would have happened in Sydney. I know that I was slightly pale when I caught up with her. She said that she was confident that he was going to let her pass. I said that I was glad.
We continued towards Little Collins Street and Catherine asked me the most interesting question. She asked me if I felt more Korean or American in Australia and where was home? I couldn’t answer her straight away. Home is definitely Sydney. But it’s hard to pinpoint either Korean or American. It’s possible to have such a conversation along separated cycleways in Melbourne. My answer was that I choose the best of Korean and American cultures and that it depends upon the situation. She asserted her Irishness despite several generations of family in Australia.
My friend Melbourne Crank had agreed to take some photos of us while in the city. Catherine quizzed me on my relationship to MC and his work while waiting for him. A few moments later, I heard my profile of MC repeated verbatim when Catherine shook his hand. Soon we were inside the Leona Edmiston Vintage shop. Catherine instructed MC to “make me look better than Sarah” in the shop. She would later suggested taking surreptitious nude photos of me. None of which ended up in this blog post, of course.
Leona Edmiston does an amazing job of creating dresses that flatter all shapes and figures. I knew that Catherine was familiar with the brand but she said that she only shopped online. We had a great time trying on some older dresses and dresses from the current collection.
A wonderful #bikeshopeat in Melbourne!