Looking South Toward Hopkins from Broadway East

Picture of a street that dead ends into  deteriorating row homes with a blue sky above it and Johns Hopkins Hospital in the background.

Friday as the last day of work before spring break, and boy howdy did I have spring breakitis that day! The weather was bananas–in the 70s, sun shining, just enough humidity to kick on the dehumidifier in the basement for the first time in months–and I was itching to get outside for a ride. And that’s exactly what I did, once the last of the must-do tasks were completed, meetings over, time for the break to start a bit early.

I hopped on my bike and almost instantly got off to take off my sweatshirt and let the sun hit my bare arms. It was warm out, I was headed nowhere in particular, and the smile was already on my face. I headed south and then east, east and then south, following bike lanes as they popped up. My how you doin’s were plenty–so many people were out enjoying the spring weather too. They said how you doin’ back, and I answered, which I don’t usually do, because we’re acknowledging each other’s shared existence here, not starting a conversation. “Just a beautiful day!” I’d say, or “Loving this weather!” and I’d get the same response back, or a nod, or a bigger smile. Baltimore coming alive for the new season, and we were all here for it, as the kids say.

I snapped this picture looking south from just north of the railroad tracks in the Broadway East neighborhood. Just one view of so many on this ride, it captures Baltimore’s layers in so much complexity. Houses on the left are held up by exterior supports, houses straight ahead with chipping paint, and in the background, Johns Hopkins and the cranes in the sky. Cars parked on both sides of the street, a stoop sitter, reminders that people live here, no matter the organized abandonment that tires to make it no longer so in the shadow of development and displacement. We can build where and when we have the urgency to build, and where we do not, that is also about choices.

I kept pedaling south and east until I found myself on the sidewalk over to Greektown for some zigging and zagging in that neighborhood, so changed by patterns of immigration that have grown the Latinx population in this neighborhood, Highlandtown, and other east Baltimore neighborhoods. As I waited for the red light to turn, I looked at all the flyers stapled on the light pole next to me advertising dance and music nights in Spanish, lives of play and joy that I can not know are even happening if I don’t leave my neighborhood and wait at the light. I wasn’t sure where I was at a certain point, and I paused to enjoy that feeling. I love being lost, something that is harder and harder to do these days, sort of.

And then I took a zig zag route home, thought about how I better wear sunscreen next time, and felt so lucky to have an afternoon like this–sunshine, bike, neighbors, and Baltimore. A complicated place, the Greatest City in America. Here’s to a spring of riding around and reminding myself about its nooks and crannies. Note to self: I need to remember sunscreen, even if I’m only going to be out for a little bit, because it always turns into longer.

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