Here we are, another week into quarantine. I regularly ask my students in our online course meetings if things are getting harder or easier. A. said a few weeks ago that things are mostly just getting weirder, and I totally agree with her. I remain in total disbelief that this is happening.
Some days feel ok, and I spend the day much like I would have spent a day in Before Time: up early, coffee, reading, emailing, meeting, writing, emailing, teaching, writing, procrastinating, running or taking a bike ride, and then settling in for an evening of television and binge eating cookies.
Other days are filled with frustration and fear, anger and joy, the full range of human emotions every few hours. Wednesday was like that for me, and when I was at the end of my rope, stomping around the house, my ladyfriend reminded me that I always feel better after a bike ride.
She was right. I grabbed my bike, circled the block looking to see if the mail truck was anywhere because I was waiting for the mail, and then headed down the hill to check out what was happening at Lexington Market. They’ve been talking about its redevelopment for years, and I’ve been riding by it on my way home from work almost every day for years and years, wondering what was going to happen. It had faded from my mind a bit, because I’m not passing it on my way home from work anymore. I saw a couple pictures of the latest round of demolition, though, and wanted to see it for myself.
I made my first stop outside my work wife’s apartment building. I called to see if she’d come to the window and say hi. I miss her so much, seeing her in the flesh, sitting next to her at the bar as we trade complaints we both know we are lucky to have. I don’t want to wave at her from a distance, but I’ll take what I can get.
She wasn’t answering, so I texted to see if she’d be around on my way back and got back on the bike to head to Eutaw Street. The street is absolutely packed with people. Street life in downtown Baltimore is always buzzing, and coronavirus hasn’t changed that at all. People are waiting for the bus, doing deals on corners, making conversation in front of corner stores, and just hanging out. A lot of people have masks on, and a lot of people don’t, and there’s no way there’s six feet between everyone. I tugged my bandana over my face and rolled down the street, muttering my muffled how you doings.
I turned on Baltimore Street and made my right on Paca where I had to find a break in the wrap around the fence around the construction site to try and snap a picture. When they demo a building they never take the whole thing down at once, so you find yourself peering beneath the skin at the bones, and they look like the old market, but they also don’t.
I have a lot of feelings about this redevelopment, none of which I feel like working through or typing out. What I will say is development in Baltimore, and likely most cities, is also about displacement, and there’s displacement here, for sure.
My phone buzzed. My work wife had just gotten home from walking around to check out Lexington Market and then Southwest Baltimore, let me know when you’re here, I’ll come out, she said. I hopped on my bike and headed her way. She was going to come out of her apartment building so we could actually see each other, briefly, from a distance, in our masks, standing on the sidewalk. I was so excited I almost started crying. I miss my friends so much.
We chatted for a bit, compared Lexington Market notes, and she asked if she should write about it. Yes, I said, please do. I want to know what you have to say. Her writing often gives shape and meaning to my impulses, and for that I am so grateful. She wrote about it; read her words here.
And then it was time to head home for another meeting. I said my goodbyes and pedaled to the cycletrack and up Cathedral. I ran into S. at Chase Street, we caught up for a bit, and then it was home again, home again. I’m spending most of my time Inside, but it was so good to be Outside, to remember there’s an Outside with people in it, both friends and strangers. And it was a reminder that so much is happening while we aren’t looking.