Parking Lot and Prisons at Fallsway & E. Centre St.

Parking Lot & Prisons at Fallsway & E. Centre I hadn’t ridden my bicycle in a couple of weeks, due to holiday travel and holiday sit-around-the-house reasons, but I finally got in a ride today, and wow, I instantly felt so much more like myself than I have in some days. It was a beautiful day, finally sunny, blue skies peeking out more and more as the day went on. I rolled down the hill, made a quick stop at my gym to earn the 100 bonus points you get for checking in to the gym nine times in a month (a very on-brand choice, if you know me in real life), and then down to Harbor East to meet my work wife for lunch.

It turned out to be the brunch menu, so I got coffee, a peach bellini, and the eggs benedict, a fancy goodbye to this year and this decade. The 2010s were a doozy, especially the last four years since my father was killed by a distracted driver and my twin sister and I both went through our first cancer diagnoses, following just a few years after my mom’s second bout with it. My wife’s grandparents died, and her father survived what could have been a deadly stroke. This is the stuff of life, and there has been a lot of it  lately. I am happy to toast all that I’ve learned and set some intentions for the new year.

My ride home took me in heavy winds up the hill. A cyclist rolled up behind me at Centre Street at the red light and complimented my safety triangle on my bike. “I’ve got the same one!” Turns out we both did tours with Adventure Cycling this decade–he across the country, me though the Adirondacks. We cheered each other’s good fortune, and he zoomed away.

Before I did, I snapped this picture across the parking lot and at a couple of the buildings that are part of the prison complex I pass on my ride home whenever I’m coming from the east side. I remember when I first moved to Baltimore Martin O’Malley was planning to build a giant new youth jail. I joined the protests against it, following the lead of the Baltimore Algebra Project and other activists. So much money spent on so many cages, unconscionable. As I learned from Ruthie Gilmore, when the state expands its capacity, it stays expanded. Every bed becomes one that must be filled.

They didn’t build that jail, but then they did. It was another reminder that the fights are never done, there’s no such thing as “winning.” I thought about that as I rode the rest of the way home. This new youth jail offers so many resources to help young people, but it’s in the context of incarceration. What if we spent those funds on making those resources to kids who just need them? There has to be a better way.

And then I crossed North Avenue, crossed 25th, neighborhoods changing block by block, life chances changing along the way. So much to do in Baltimore. Here’s to doing more in the new decade.

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