This is not exactly breaking news, but it is incredibly hot and humid in Baltimore right now. It has been this way forever, it feels like, but for at least the past six weeks. There’s just no break in it, and I hate it. Being outside is what keeps me from utter despair, and sometimes the weather is just so despairingly hot. Alas.
I set out for my Monday afternoon bike ride at the hottest part of the day, as my ladyfriend reminded me while I was sunscreening everything. But it was the time I had, and I had a couple of errands to get to. My first stop was to feed a friend’s cat and scratch that cat’s chest and belly for awhile. Next up I hit the dispensary for their BOGO day, and then I pedaled down the hill with no plan.
I hit a red light at Centre Street so took that as a sign to head one direction or the other, and this time I chose east, so I could be in a protected bike lane a bit longer. I’d tell you I noticed lots of interesting things on this ride, but to be honest I was mostly just trying to keep my breath in the heat, especially when the road pitched uphill.
Here are some things I did notice, though. I need to bike with some dollar bills to take advantage of the sno ball stands on so many sidewalks. Everybody around Hopkins is wearing a mask nonstop, not just when they’re passing people on the sidewalk. Drivers continue to suck, pulling up through crosswalks and barely slowing for their rights on red.
Mostly what I noticed, though, was how this area around Hopkins continues to change, but oh so slowly. The empty lot bragging about new homes coming soon is still empty. The houses in this blog post photograph are still falling down, only now their demolition appears to be officially scheduled. The blooms of summer are completely taking over. In the background are the cranes, still building and building and building out Hopkins. It’s like watching a slow tide roll over so many neighborhoods. I always wonder what else those cranes could build, and where the people who lived in these homes have gone.
It’s a long, slow flood, an explosion in decades rather than an instant, a pandemic building, rolling through, no work on a vaccine happening here. What do we do when it isn’t an event?
I continued my ride east until Ashland hit Bocek Park, took a right and another right to pedal slowly up Lakewood until I was back to Hopkins. I stopped and poured water down my gullet, took off my helmet to get a slight breeze on my sweat-soaked dome, and then walked for a couple blocks in the shade before heading back home. I passed by the oncology center where I got all my treatments and checked in with myself. Does this place trigger terrible feelings? Is that happening right now?
It wasn’t, not this time. Instead I remembered my innocence at the beginning of cancer. I had no idea what was coming, and I was hit on this ride with how little I know of what’s ahead. What I have figured out, though, is that it will feel like it is impossible, but it will be possible, because grief and death and illness give you no other choices than to gut it out, make it possible, even when it’s not.
I took my left into the bike lane and headed west and north in the Fallsway cycletrack, and was home for cold seltzers and a lounge in front of the living room A/C unit. What a lucky life I have. I never regret a bike ride, no matter how hot it is.