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?
I rode all over town today, and a lot of it was in protected cycletracks. I rode down Fallsway to the gym in Harbor East, on the new Center Street cycletrack over to Mount Vernon for some errands, and the Maryland cycletrack home. I can’t believe the difference these tracks make for my safety. I know, drivers see them as the enemy, taking away their territory, causing traffic jams, all for “nobody,” because drivers by and large think nobody uses these lanes. In the past couple of weeks I’ve seen so many people using the cycletracks, on bikes, in wheelchairs, on scooters, on foot. I’m happy to be one of them.
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
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.
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.
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.