I had a surprise day out of the office on Wednesday, and oh, what a treat! It was a beautiful day–sunny, cooling breeze, like spring–once these clouds burned off. I spent my free day riding my bike around, first to a new gym for a free trial. If you know me in real life you know that I already belong to all the gyms, but hey, why not try out one with towel service that’s along a bike lane?
Yep, still riding my bike around these days. The gift of not having regular access to a car is that I take a bike ride almost every day. Today’s ride took me down the hill and over to Harbor East to attend my Very Fancy Gymnasium for an exercise class. I remember the first time I rode my bike here, and how nervous I was that I wouldn’t be able to make it home. Six months out from cancer treatment and I know I can make it home, even if it’s into cold, gusty winds, uphill all the way. I’m ok now. It’s still surprising to me, and it’s still true. Might not always be true, but it’s true today, and today’s ride was a gift.
I haven’t blogged in awhile, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been biking. It’s absolutely biking season in Baltimore–cooler temps, still light out after six, and besides, biking is the best way to get around. Most of my rides have been to and from work or to and from the place where I get my haircut, but at least once a week I’ve managed to take the long way and get just lost enough.
Thursday’s ride took me to Charles Village to meet N. for a surprise lunch before heading down to the Horseshoe Casino to invest some spare dollars and then enjoy happy hour while watching college basketball. None of that aligns with any of my political priorities, but fuck it, I’m on vacation and am basically a huge hypocrite. I left, one “cosmopolitan” and two lite beers plus some of Guy Fieri’s “vegas fries” on board, but in spite of all that, since I broke even at the slots and UCLA won a nailbiter, I considered myself a winner. Continue reading
Thursday’s ride took me down the hill and around the Inner Harbor and up and over through Federal Hill for a day with A. and her sweet baby girl. The wind was light, which meant an almost balmy day, and it put me in such a good mood. I followed the newly-striped bike lane down Guilford down to South Street. It’s all scraggly, running right alongside parked cars, jogging right and left as it passes through one intersection after another. It’s striped all the way to the Inner harbor, big NO PARKING signs lining the street across Lombard. On this day, the bike lane was filled with limousines transferring rich people to the Renaissance hotel, and I was like, seriously? Continue reading
Friday’s ride took me down the hill early to meet D. for coffee and a planning session for an independent study we’re working on together. We got to talking about how it feels to walk around Baltimore, what we so on foot that we don’t see in a car, and how at odds our rhetoric about movin’ on up is with the streets between here and there. And then we walked, me pushing my bike, east on North Avenue to the Great Blacks in Wax museum, where we wondered at the juxtaposition of Dred Scott and George Washington, the Middle Passage and Ancient Egypt and FUBU, and what the lawn jockeys were doing standing with Henry “Box” Brown. We parted ways a couple of hours later, her for a walk back west, and me for a ride downtown and east so I could clear my brain with fries and some college basketball. I zig zagged my way and found myself in the East Baltimore of the Hopkins redevelopment–Middle East. This area changes every day, it seems, but also nothing ever seems to change, except on this day, when the vacant homes were fenced off. I snapped this picture of a block filled with the brick piles of demolition, a last row of houses still standing. The pile smelled of the must that is in the very cells of some of these neighborhoods, and it held the signs of life still lived there–curtains, mattresses, kids’ toys, broken chairs. Rising behind them is the new development–a glass cube ready to hold students and young professionals who can walk to their new community garden guarded over by police lights and visit the corner store with a security guard standing on the store’s corner. I took a slow tour of the few blocks and thought to myself, “Hey, Re/Development, your bones are showing.” And then it was Butcher’s Hill and down the hill to Boston Street and a whole different world. Baltimore, you sure don’t hide your shit.
Wednesday was another commute in a long week of commutes in crazy weather. I misread the reports and decked myself out for a monsoon, plastic pants and all. Yeah, I didn’t quite need those. The commute went off without incident, to and from, until I started up Charles from the station to home. Charles has been under construction for awhile now, inching closer and closer to North Avenue. This is a main drag of Baltimore’s White Stripe, and it was in terrible condition–time for a real fix, inconvenient and dusty as it might be. Continue reading