Plants Taking Over a Blighted Building at E. Oliver & N. Durham

Plants Taking Over a Blighted Building at E. Oliver & N. DurhamThursday’s ride was one of those rides where you pedal around trying to get out of the post-first-day-of-school funk that always follows the heavy excitement of day one. I rode up the hill, ate a sandwich, and then rode down the hill, not sure of my destination. I decided to see if Pratt Street was closed for that boondoggle known as the Baltimore Grand Prix (thinking about the waste of resources makes me apoplectic–don’t get me started). I hate the thing, but if the road was closed to cars, maybe I could sneak in a bike race. No such luck, so I headed east, eventually ending up in Canton for some frozen yogurt and an hour of watching dogs tug around their owners. I sat there and thought about New Orleans. August 29, 2005. Some people can just forget, or it was a news story that faded away after an angry facebook post or two, on to the next one, on to the next. But if you were in New Orleans then, well, I wasn’t, but I love many who were, and I know that it is not a trauma that ever goes away. It is not replaced by the next disaster in the news cycle. Everything was different after, for everyone. That’s a part I didn’t really get until I lived there. It wasn’t just that you lost your home, but that everyone did, that your whole neighborhood was suffering in the same way you were. And thousands and thousands and thousands never made their way home. Riding a bike around New Orleans, it was impossible to imagine that flood was simply “over.” And then I got back on my bike on August 29, 2013 and rode home on streets I hadn’t been on in awhile, taking Oliver across town. Riding through these east Baltimore neighborhoods feels not unlike riding around parts of New Orleans where whole blocks sit silently abandoned and buildings like this one at N. Durham have been taken over by plants. There was not a flood here, but there was a storm of some sort, and one that is still raging. Same thing in NOLA–it’s not over, and people are still here, living lives amidst it all. That’s the thing–these aren’t events, they are ongoing struggles, ongoing losses, and for me, it is the bike ride that always and everyday reminds me that the storm is not over, there is no on to the next one. And then I was back on my old route, pedaling up Guilford to home. That part? That’s a whole lot of luck.

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