Monday’s ride was a short one, just up to Hampden to drop my sunglasses off for new lenses–they’ve been a prescription behind for over a year and are all scratched up. I can afford to get new lenses in my prescription sunglasses. I wonder how long I’ll have to make this comfortably middle class salary before I’ll just know that to be true and will just go ahead and get the glasses. Anyway, I then headed up through Hampden to pick up some miso paste at the fancy organic foods store (another thing I can afford but have gotten used to affording more quickly). I snapped this picture along 37th Street, I think it was, of a house being held up by stilts. Continue reading
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.
It’s summertime, summer school is over, and this is the time when I tend to get restless and glum. I work best when I’ve got stuff to do, so if I’m not careful, unscheduled time can get the best of me, stealing from me this valuable time to let my mind range freely, read new things, and make new connections. I’ve learned this over the past zillion summers, so I make sure to schedule things work, writing, and relaxing-related. Today’s schedule featured a bike ride over to the Be Free Floating in West Baltimore for my second trip in their sensory deprivation tank.
Friday was a hard day. Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police while selling CDs outside a convenience store. Philando Castile was shot at a traffic stop, his girlfriend filming as her 4 year old child sat in the back seat. These were the latest two in a year that has already seen over 500 people shot and killed by police officers. And then shots rang out in Dallas, more people dead, more lives plunged into the heavy ocean waves of despair. Layers upon layers of loss, each one all about politics, and also about the individuals with lives cut short, the people who loved them left, after the cameras turn off, with the void of death. It’s so very permanent, and the grief will never ever fully subside. It is so, so sad, and angering, and it makes me want to melt down all the guns and freeze time until we can figure out how to uproot what Judith Butler calls schematic racism: the settled notion that all Black people are a threat and all white people need constant police protection from them. There’s a lot of other stuff we need to do, too, but that’s what was on my mind as I headed out on a bike ride on Friday.
It was my birthday last Thursday, and I was a bit apprehensive about it, my first without my dad. Firsts are tricky, or so I’ve heard, so I didn’t make any big plans for the day in case what I wanted to do was sit in bed and cry. That’s not what I wanted to do, waking up in a celebratory mood instead. I decided to keep it going on Friday with another vacation day, this time for a bike ride. I set out without a real plan, except a vague desire to collect my free Birthday Burger at Red Robin down in Canton. I zig zagged my way there, got a burger that I ended up paying for–don’t worry, the free one’s on my card for later this week–and then decided on a whim to bike over to Dundalk. Getting there’s a bit of a pain–Holabird Avenue’s not exactly bike-friendly–but once you’re there it’s a dream of wide bike lanes and quiet streets. I made my way slowly over there and took the lane on Holabird to avoid that close-call feeling as cars imagine they can pass you even when they can’t. I went past the Amazon warehouse where all the magic happens, noted its ample bike parking and wondered if the company doesn’t have the clout to get a bike lane in front, and talked my way through the truck traffic before making my right on Dundalk Avenue.
Thursday was my birthday, my first one without an expected text from my dad telling me how proud he was of me and suggesting that maybe my 41st birthday ought better be thought as the start of my 42nd year. Coming into the day fresh off his memorial service in Boise didn’t make that any easier: I am acutely aware that he is gone and not coming back, and that’s still really, really sad. But then I woke up Thursday morning feeling celebratory–I’m alive, it’s great to be alive, I’m living an incredibly lucky life, and I wouldn’t change mine for anybody else’s, no way, no how. That’s a pretty great feeling, one worth celebrating by going out to breakfast with a friend, picking up a fresh flower gift from the local florist, writing a little about my dad, and then taking a bike ride.
I followed the ladyfriend’s directions for Saturday’s ride: go north, get lost. It has been just two weeks since my dad was killed by an errant driver, and grief is far from over. And part of grief, I’m discovering, is an inability to make decisions. I resisted for a minute–but going north means going uphill!–but relented when she reminded me that would mean I’d be going downhill on the way home. Continue reading