Mary Lou Sanelli
Mary Lou Sanelli

My bicycle was stolen from the Denny Whole Foods parking garage recently, cut right off the back of my car.

Though what I really want to say is a little more expressive: My best friend was abducted while I was shopping for half-price raspberries!

When I first saw she was gone, I felt shaken. Disbelieving. Surprise! How could someone do something like that? The earth did not move. But it altered. I had the weirdest sensation that heat was softening the asphalt under my feet, making me sink deeper into my own steps.

The first person I told was a beautiful (fashion-model beautiful) woman getting out of her car. When she pulled down her mask to say “yikes” more out of habit, it seemed, than compassion, I thanked her. Motions like that matter at times like this. “I did see a man walking around Belltown with bolt cutters strapped to his belt,” she said, her false eyelashes blinking like tiny black fans, which seemed right somehow, as if they waved off, in a natural unnatural way, anything more to say.

Even in my despair, I envied her.

It’s the kind of envy that can take me by surprise, a longing not so much for being a beautiful woman in her 20s, but surely more beautiful and definitely younger. It makes me feel wanting, almost lacking, when it happens. And my inner admonition is always the same: Stop it! Stop it right now! I stared at my empty bike rack, struggling in my state of contrasts: Tough, resilient woman vs. wanting to kneel down and cry like a newborn.

What gets me is I hardly ever shop at Denny Whole Foods. That part of town is a nowhere land to me. I pulled in because my friend’s text read “SALE!” Five green berry baskets sat on her counter. Any excuse to post an image.

South Lake Union once served as a catchment for logs on their way to be milled, but now I get the feeling it serves as a catchment for anyone needing to steal something quick — bicycles, cell phones — and head on back to wherever they can fence them. And since this has happened to me twice in the area, it can happen, in its own quick-as-a-flash way, to anyone.

The first time, I was getting my hair cut in a salon on Westlake and in walks a man who scoops up an entire shelf of hair products and runs out. I heard my hairdresser say, “It’s not even worth calling the cops anymore.”

Her anger was as familiar as my own. I knew I wouldn’t call the cops about my bicycle either. Though I should have, to get a case number anyway.

We should all take advantage of the right to call the police. It’s like voting.

If you go to websites and apps like Craigslist, eBay, OfferUp, you’ll see plenty of bikes for sale. And if you happen to see yours, you can contact police, and thank God, or whoever, if they rescue your bike.

In the meantime, I will stop mourning my old bike, buy a new one, or new to me, as I’m a great fan of Recycled Cycles on Boat Street.

Though, wait, where do they get their bicycles?


So, I called the store and spoke to the manager, David. Taking a phone call such as mine in a bicycle shop on a summer Seattle day is a good deed by anyone’s measures, but he is just the nicest, most positive guy.

“We never pay cash for bikes,” he said. “That attracts the dark side. Nor do we except any bike that’s been spray painted. Only store credit or a trade-in. All serial numbers are run through the Bike Index. Anything that feels remotely shady, we say no thank you.”

People get things stolen all the time, my husband points out, but in a soothing tone, like he is talking someone off a ledge, and I suppose he is.

As the writer Michael Palin said, “One of the most important days of my life is when I learned to ride a bicycle.”

I’ve always felt most like myself riding a bicycle. Learning to balance on two wheels was my first independence. I can still remember the exhilaration I felt peddling out of my neighborhood, past the concrete plant where my father worked, and into the next discovery down the road. Inhaling the sense of freedom, having lost all sense of myself, the world opened up to me.

And once you get a sense of freedom, you want more, more, more.

I just hope the person who stole my bike doesn’t leave her out in the rain. She hates that. Her chain gets rusty and her frame starts to corrode.

So, thief? Care for her. If you do, she will provide the finest peace of mind you will ever know.


Mary Lou Sanelli, author, speaker and dance teacher, has been part of The Queen Anne & Magnolia News since 2009. Her novel, The Star Struck Dance Studio (of Yucca Springs), was released in 2019. Her newest collection of essays, Every Little Thing, is forthcoming in the fall of 2021. For more information about her and her work, visit