I was feeling kind of blue on Monday, not for any real reason, but you know how it is. I find that all my irritation, frustration, anger, fear, despair…it gets laser focused on some tiny thing in my life that isn’t important at all in the scheme of things, but in a moment can get me so down. Right now, it’s the part where we got a new couch in January, it was delivered at the start of the lockdown, and the legs don’t fit, and so we’ve got a fancy couch sitting on the floor, and we may be sitting on the floor for months and months.
This is like the tiniest violin. We have a house to sit in, and unless I’m actively thinking about how the couch is sitting on the floor, I don’t really care. I mean, it’s blue velvet and soft, and I am not actually sitting on the floor, I’m sitting on a luxurious blue velvet couch. An embarrassment of riches anytime, but especially now.
And yet. I’m so angry that there’s nothing I can do to control this situation. Turns out, I like to be in control, and there’s nothing I can control at the moment. (I know–I can control my reaction to things. I’ve had a lot of therapy. And somehow I still have Feelings about stuff like this.) This manifested during cancer treatment, for example, in full on rages at the poor radiation oncology staff. I was so mad that I couldn’t choose my treatment time, but really that was just the pinpoint for all my feelings at the loss of control over my body, life, or reality during Cancer.
So, after raging at the couch on the couch I decided it would be better to go for a bike ride than sit on said couch and be mad about how I can’t control when it gets fixed. This was a very good plan.
I headed out for a quick socially distanced hello with R., who is very wise and helped me put things in perspective, and it only took her like three minutes. Friendship is magic. Then I started pedaling down the hill and got to chat with A. as we were both stopped at a stoplight. She’s pregnant and beautiful and it was so good to see her and say some hellos. How are you? we asked each other. Really no answer, but I like going through the motions of the how you doin’. It is more a recognition that we’re both still here, and that’s what I need right now.
I rode the Maryland Avenue cycletrack to the end, crossed Pratt Street to head to the casino to see if anybody new is parked over there. I decided to head west instead of my usual trip to Middle Branch Park, and I did some loops around Pigtown. I stopped to snap this picture of an old building behind barbed wire on Bayard Street. This is along the Gwynns Falls Trail, and there’s an interpretive sign–woot!
The interpretive sign told me about the Carroll-Camden industrial district, one of the first in the city. The gas-lighting industry started here, and breweries, piano factories, and dredging equipment that is still built here today. Most of that stuff is gone now, but I passed the place where all the Len the Plumber trucks hang out, a mirror and window factory, a junkyard, the ToolBank, this place that sells what used to be here, and other stuff that wouldn’t be at home in other parts of the city. There are traces of the 1800s here, but the industries have largely changed.
And they’ll change again. There was a time our streets were lit by gas lamps and canals were being built for all kinds of transport, but we don’t do those things anymore. I remember reading a book by Nathanial Philbrick called In the Heart of the Sea. It’s about the whaleship Essex, inspiration for Moby Dick. What I remember most about it, though, is the story of how whale oil was used for virtually all energy needs, until there weren’t really any whales left. And then people figured out other kinds of energy.
I wonder what we’ll figure out when we get out of this, what is already being figured out, what will stay and what will go. We’re in the midst of a historical shift, so it’s impossible to see outside of here, which is why I’m glad there are science fiction writers, even if it’s a genre I don’t read.
The last sentence of the sign says, “Efforts are underway today to redevelop this area.” We shall see, I guess.
And then I biked home, taking the long way up and down side streets to decrease my chances of crossing paths with other humans. I did pass one man, also on his bike, and we gave each other the biggest smiles. They felt so good. We are still here.