American Flag at Covington & East Barney

American Flag at Covington & East BarneyTuesday’s ride was a slow one, down the hill to meet O. and R. for a goodbye breakfast as R. heads out for two months of world travel–dang, I’m going to miss her–and then back on the bike for a ride to Locust Point. I was already on Maryland Avenue, so I stayed there, fantasizing about the cycletrack that will one day grace our fair city, and saving that downhill-through-Mount-Vernon momentum to get up the hill by the library. I caught up with another bicycle rider there, and we exchanged our friendly how-you-doin’s, and it was just nice to have company. And then we both sped down the hill across Saratoga, and she took her left on Lombard as I went straight, under the Convention Center pedestrian overpass and through the light to the other side and Federal Hill. I like this alternate route, because even though there are more cars, there are fewer pedestrians, and somedays I would rather not have to negotiate all the “on your rights” and “excuse me, coming throughs” that pedestrian-bicycle shared space needs. I must sound like an asshole, but seriously, when we’re walking around these days we all have our faces buried in our phones, and it seems to take a lot more than a bell or a friendly “coming through!” to get anyone’s attention. Am I nostalgic for a shared social space that never existed, I wonder? Anyway, I pedaled over and up and over and up and down to McHenry Row and then back the other way toward Riverside Park for a day of baby-holding for my dear friend and new mom, A. The streets of Federal Hill were positively lacquered in American flags for the upcoming holiday, and it was curious. I mean, who actually goes out and gets a flag and puts it up? Lots of folks, yes, but I hadn’t seen this anywhere else in Baltimore. Turns out the flags are “presents” from the local real estate agent. Yeah, real estate agents *love* America, and it’s been good to them. In Baltimore, real estate has helped a whole lot of people make a whole lot of money trading on racial hatred and white supremacy, and if that’s not as American as apple pie, I don’t know what is. And then I rode home the old way, past and through and around the lines drawn by that history-in-the-present. Yep, our freedom is defined by our slavery, from the very start.

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