Blue Skies with Light Clouds Above North Montford & Preston Streets

Two weeks ago Tuesday I was heading out of my house to see a friend read poetry at the brewery just a few steps from my house. I was running late but feeling good, and I hopped quickly down the front steps of my house. I must have missed a step or something, because all of a sudden I was collapsed in a heap on my front sidewalk, unable to get up. I sprained my ankle, badly, but I didn’t know that in the moment. What I knew was that I was hurt, and I was scared, and I wasn’t sure what to do.

Fortunately, a couple of my neighbors were walking by, and they stopped to see if I was ok. I stayed chipper, because that’s what I do, made a joke. I took my glasses off to rub my eyes and because I didn’t want to see. “Do you want to put your glasses there?” my neighbor asked gently. No, I don’t want to put my glasses on the sidewalk, good call. I called my ladyfriend who was inside the house, but she doesn’t look at her phone unless she’s using it, and she didn’t pick up. The neighbors helped me up and carried me up to my front door where I let myself in and hobbled to the couch.

I’ve sprained my ankle before, but this has been something else. I couldn’t put any weight on it for several days and got around on crutches the ladyfriend snagged for me, or by crawling up the stairs. I was all rest/ice/compression/elevation as the swelling got completely out of hand. I was so frustrated by my sudden lack of mobility on my holiday week when I’d planned to ride my bike all over town. Nope–I spent my holiday yet again listening to my body in a new way and trying to have the discipline to actually hear it, and stay put. Which I did, and then I could walk, and sit on the recumbent bike, and then I tried a slow and careful bike commute, and then I biked again, and again, and I can bike again. It is a relief to be back on the bike, and a reminder that everything is temporary, what my body can and can’t do and my health included.

I had some time on Tuesday afternoon to go for a bike ride that wasn’t a commute to work, and I had the body confidence to go ahead and do that. I hopped on my bike with only one destination in mind–the vet, to pick up some meds for my sick cat. Once that task was accomplished I zipped east until I hit Harford Road, found it too scary to bike on so headed back west, and then south and east and south and east on streets I hadn’t ridden in a very long time.

Riding around and paying attention is how I feel most like myself. I like the how-you-doings with other people on the street, and I got plenty of those. I like seeing how neighborhoods change and thinking about how and why they do. Looking up and out from my navel has gotten harder as quarantine has made the up and out smaller in many ways, so it felt particularly good to stretch my legs and see more of the city for a change.

I snapped this picture at a stoplight at Preston Street as I zipped down Montford. The weather report in the morning said cloudy skies, but the blue showing through was beautiful and I wanted to capture just a hint of what it feels like to be out in the city on a cold sunny day. There is nothing better.

I kept riding south until I hit Patterson Park and did a couple loops around it, dinging my bell and dog walkers, other cyclists, walkers staring at their phones, and groups of school kids heading home for the day. So many different lives lived in just the ten mile loop of this day, all of them with their own sprained ankles or whatever shaping what they can and can’t do and a city infrastructure that makes so much harder than it needs to be.

I rode home via Gough, through Perkins Homes to see what’s happening there–lots of fences and boarded-up windows, but not a whole lot else. I went around the never ending construction on Central and up and through Jonestown, which is what I’m guessing Perkins Homes will look like in a few years, and then I was back in the Fallsway cycletrack for my zillionth ride up the hill. It is good to be back on the bike, and maybe in a few more weeks I’ll be able to run again. I’m going to listen to my body and heed its suggestions, something I’m getting better at doing. Something my dad was never ever good at. I wish I could brag about my wisdom to him, alas.

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