Twenty Blocks

Our apartment is behind a locked gate and a tall brown stained fence that keeps the street away from the four units along the gravel path that makes up our little complex. That gate swings open and one of our neighbors returns from her run. She is so dedicated to this daily practice that – on the days that I decide to work at our dinner table in front of the window that looks out to our little yard and the gravel path – she runs to the gate, unlocks it and runs off, and repeats the unlock, close and run process at her return. Every time I see this I make a mental note of her dedication. It’s especially noted today, a Thursday, because there is frost on the ground and because I’m not out the Thursday ride, and since I’m not working there probably won’t be a proper ride for me today. In an hour I’m heading to the dentist, via the bus.

I need some cash to do that, so I get dressed grab my bike and roll it out the door, down the gravel path, open walk through and close gate. I get on and ride down the sidewalk, then off the curb taking a couple of pedal strokes to get to the right side of the road before crossing 75th.

This is the direction I take to work so I think about how I’m mirroring a work day. All the car windows are covered in a heavy frost and people are bundled up in bright colored puffy down jackets and gloves removing the frozen dew in tiny shards that pile up at the wipers. My eyes start to water and now I think about the cold days riding to classes with my friend Bobby and how I always noticed his eyes watering on those cold rides through Cleveland’s West Side.

I’m dressed with heavy gloves, jeans, cotton hoody, under my own puffy down jacket and winter cap, boots on top of my TIMEs. It hasn’t been cold like this in a long time I think to myself, but quickly realize that its not true and remember the last team ride I did in Portland, ten of us bundled up and freezing in the wind on top of Crown Point.

Various other thoughts roll out in time with my slow pace until I reach 84th and cut left down to 35th for the last two blocks to the bank. There I withdraw forty-dollars, my spending loot for the next two weeks.

The return trip mirrors the outbound one, except I’m a little more lost in my own head. The traffic has lightened up,and though there’s still frost, I’m not as afraid patches of leaves on the street. This is my ride today. Just twenty blocks. Some days need to be like this. My beard is wet, and I think about all the times I showed up to class, the mess of hair on my face a frozen block. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

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