Overgrowth and Cosmos in an Empty Lot at 20th & Guilford

20181016_143903-1 I’ve been riding my bike again, because that’s just how I get around. Some days I get on my bike and start pedaling and feel deeply myself again, familiar, at home. It’s a good feeling after most of a year feeling like I’m not myself anymore, and never really will be again, not the same way, anyway. I am so comfortable on my bicycle, me and that seat, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of miles, almost ten years together.

And some days I feel like I’m just moving this body, still shellshocked, to and fro, the bike just happens to be the way I’m doing it.

Today was the former. I got on my bike early. It was chilly, but not too chilly, more kind of sharp. I pedaled, turned, pedaled, coasted, took the sidewalk for a block to avoid construction, pedaled, waited, pedaled some more. and it was all so familiar. I zipped through Jonestown and Little Italy, a turn on Bank Street, closed to through traffic, and then through the construction in Harbor East. I locked up my bike and headed into Orangetheory.

Orangetheory is an expensive franchise boutique gym. You go in there and for an hour somebody tells you what to do with your body, you sweat a lot and monitor your heart rate (my dad would have hated that–he was a Rate of Perceived Exertion guy to the very end). I like that for that hour I don’t think at all, about anything. My body’s being ordered around by somebody who isn’t me, but not in that yucky cancer way where everything feels terrible after, but in that exertion way where you feel just satisfyingly wrung out at the end. It’s great.

Afterward I got back on my bike and pedaled the opposite way, taking lanes and slow-rolling up the hill. I didn’t take this picture on my way home today, but I have a whole bunch of pictures of this spot on my phone. I’ve been watching the cosmos grow. Before that I watched the lot become a lot when the building that used to be here came down. They put up a sign in the lot with a picture of a bicyclist and “If you lived here, you’d be home by now,” like it was some real bike path., and it would feel like relief to be home “by now” just north of North Avenue. They rebuilt the houses on the corner just south of here, and landscaped the heck out of the yard. It took five years for them to do it; when I first rode past this corner seven years ago it was the promise of erasure and rebuilding.

I’ve been watching this corner for years now, and I’m glad I am back to paying attention to it, but I don’t have much to say yet, about any of it. This first year with cancer, made more cancer-y by my sister’s cancer diagnosis (thanks a lot, Emily), is still happening. It hasn’t even been a year. I’m happy to be back on my bike, and to have as many moments feeling like myself as I have these days. And there’s also a new self I’m still settling into, post-cancer me. I still like riding bikes, and today I also used a car service, walked, took the city bus, and zipped around on one of those scooters. Gotta stay flexible.

I continued heading north, took a left, stopped by the grocery, and headed home for a hot shower. Today was a wrung-out day, and it felt good. This is the best season for bicycling, except for maybe spring, which is also on its way here.

One thought on “Overgrowth and Cosmos in an Empty Lot at 20th & Guilford

  1. I remember riding my bike home on this block, heading north, some years ago. The homes were in the erasure stage – condemned, with a sign warning of demolition. I seem to remember that the date given for demolition passed and the houses stood for at least another month or 2.
    Someone was standing with their back to me, facing the buildings. I figured out in a glance that they were urinating. The person said, “‘scuse me”. We all pee (if we’re lucky/healthy enough) – I am guessing that this person thought he had found a quiet block and a chance to get some relief, and then this bike rider comes zipping up. Another “Oh, Baltimore” moment of sorrow and charm.
    This reminds me that I want to collect cosmo seeds and cast them into empty lots. These flowers re-seed continually- it’s hard to keep them from growing back after they’ve been somewhere a year or 2.

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