Brown Volvo at 23rd & Guilford

It was just too windy to stop riding, get off my bike, and snap a picture on my ride home yesterday. It was that kind of wind where you drop down your gears and still find yourself pedaling–downhill. Whatever the conditions, though, just keep pedaling and you’ll get there–best not be in a hurry. So that’s what I did on my way home yesterday from a Friday in meetings followed by a beer and catching up with N, the first week of another new semester in the books. What did I see? Lots of stuff, but what I really saw was the mix of gaudy architecture with plain stacked concrete on the Westside, and on the way home, that brown Volvo parked about four cars down from 23rd Street on Guilford. This car is always there, or, if it’s not there, there’s a safety cone there, marking the spot. This is the case all the time, not just when there’s been a storm and someone’s shoveled out their spot and erroneously believes they own it, but just plain all the time. I wonder when that started, and why the neighbors obey the cone so faithfully. I’ve been riding past that spot for three and a half years, and I’ve never seen any other car parked there. I wonder what happens when new folks move into the neighborhood, if anyone tries to park there, or if everyone just obeys the safety cone. Those orange plastic cones are so powerful, and we seem to imagine it’s largely benign power. I mean, I certainly wouldn’t take that spot. The cone must mean someone really needs that spot badly If I had a car, I could certainly park farther away. Nobody else is saving spots on the route home, but this one is honored. I’ve seen the driver of said brown Volvo–he is a pretty regular looking dude, not someone who would make you think, yeah, he probably gets to own a slice of public space and no one ever questions it. I wonder about this man and his car and his cone almost every time I ride up the hill, and a freezing wind didn’t change that. And then I was home again, both cold and sweaty, wondering what spring feels like it, it has been so long already.

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