Pink Bike on Bancroft

Celine Parreñas Shimizu

As a Cal undergrad in 1989, I was 19 and working passionately, fervently and feverishly on a magazine I started by and about women of color. I got to campus at all hours on my pink, shimmery sleek gold bike, with a straightforward wire basket holding my bag, an over the shoulder tote, second hand, like the bike from Ashby Flea Market which cost $10. The only thing new was its bell. The bike got me from North Oakland to campus and my office at Eshleman Hall.

In those days, I dressed like a Persian carpet, thick corduroy patches, patterns mismatched and always like a bib on my chest, a big top hat with velvet flowers over long hair, and long skirts, gown-like and heavy or genie-like pants. The colors were all emerald green or ruby…and of course my uniform velvet or leather black. To ride to campus on my bike, I squeezed the bottoms of my skirt or pants, and tied them together like a scrunchy into itself.

At the time of the earthquake, I got to Bancroft, alongside cars on Telegraph, and I thought someone was tugging on my bike: I turned my head ready to say something, and no one was there. I looked up ahead of me and then got my boots down on the ground when I noticed the flagpoles on campus swaying super side-to-side, stretching so low almost to the ground. I knew then it was something extraordinary.