I woke up early Wednesday morning, to NPR just before 6am, like I do most mornings. The news reported Baltimore’s Confederate monuments had been removed overnight. I was sure I was dreaming. Baltimore’s been trying to get rid of those things almost as long as they’ve been here. And even when Baltimore decides to do things, it’s never efficient about it. City bureaucracies aren’t meant to be fast, and ours certainly exceeds expectations in this regard. But it was true–at long last these particular markers of white supremacist intimidation were gone. Huzzah!
Thursday’s bike ride took me out in the city’s first Code Red Heat Alert day of the summer. Code Red means it’s going to be really, really hot, and you should probably just stay inside in a place with some ac. It also means that if you use less energy you get credits on your utility bill, so I was pretty excited to spend the day in somebody else’s air conditioning while the nickels rolled in at home. Sure, paying you to not use energy when you need it the most is sort of a scam to cover over weak infrastructure, but I’m a sucker.
Wednesday’s ride took me down the hill really early so I could hop the 7am bus out to campus. It was my turn to send Greetings From the Faculty at new student orientation, and when you don’t have a car, that means you’ve got to leave your house at 6:45 am to get there on time. That early it’s still a little bit cool out, and it was a pleasant roll down Guilford with the early bird cars and buses, until I got downtown. There’s just no way around the unpleasantness that is gridlock in a downtown core, but until we agree to move work all over so we don’t all have to pass through here to get where we’re going, we’re stuck with it.
Tuesday’s ride took me down the hill and to the left for another visit to the cryotherapy chamber. It was already hot as balls, as they say, and by the time I got to the place I was totally ready to get frozen. After I left I tooled over to Potomac Street to check out the status of the new protected bike lane the city’s putting in there–or was putting in there before neighbors complained so loudly it was cancelled, and then put in again after cyclists sued the city for cancelling it. The final design is, I think, still up for negotiation, but last I heard the protected two way cycletrack is staying, and parking is changing to make room for fire trucks, the main concern of those angry neighbors.
Monday was such a lovely day. I woke up early, banged out some work, and then hopped on my bicycle to head east on 33rd Street for my every-six-months dentist appointment. I’ve had dental insurance for six years now, and everything is different. My appointments are quick and easy, nothing like those long scraping sessions I faced when I went seven years without a cleaning. I now go religiously, making that next appointment as I leave, and going to the dentist is just a part of my life rather than this big scary thing that is going to pick all my pockets. That teeth (and eyes) aren’t included in health care is just baffling to me. Toss in the measly coverage most folks get for mental health and it seems we might just not care about heads.
Thursday promised rain all day, but I had a Very Important Cryotherapy Appointment over in Canton at noon, and nope, not interested in the bus. If everything went exactly precisely as scheduled–something that has NEVER happened to me on the bus–it would take 52 minutes to get from my house there. I can do it in 30 on a bike and end up exactly where I need to be on my schedule. I’m so, so grateful I can ride a bike.
Today’s bike ride took me on my usual route down the hill and to the right to the bike racks next to the ER at University of Maryland Medical Center. I’ve done this ride at least a hundred times, likely more, but today felt a little different. Yesterday I learned that another cyclist was hit and killed by another car. I saw the post on one of my bicycle groups on Facebook, and commented on the link right away. How tragic, I said, because it’s always tragic. I know what it feels like to get the news that a car has taken someone you love. I know that when someone dies, they are gone forever, and you are forever different. I know this, and I also know how resilient we are in the face of grief, as long as we let ourselves feel it all–or as much of it as we can bear–and as long as we stay open to it, and talk about it. I know that a year and a half after my dad was killed by a car, I am ok. I feel joy again, not as often or easily as before, but it’s already back. And it hasn’t even been two years yet. But I’m different now, and it isn’t a difference I’d wish for anyone. It hurts, badly. So when I saw the news, I knew another group of people would now have to tread this far too well trod road, and I hate that.