Fitness, Living in the Moment

I Race the Bus

The bus couldn’t care less. Its giant red backside shrinks into the distance. I bend and downshift, pumping in a crescendo of power.
I know what might be waiting at the corner.
Brake lights burn on. At the street’s edge, a cluster of bodies draped in satchels and overcoats jostles forward. This is my chance. The mirror that my Mister gave me catches the hint of a silver shape closing in on my left. I dart right instead, hopping up onto the sidewalk and weaving around behind the embarking passengers. A ramp opens in the curb and I re-enter the fray.
I’m in front now. Only three downhill blocks separate both bus and me from the stoplight where we’ll turn towards the metro. A line of cars crowds into the tiny oval of my mirror. Every commuter is trying to pass the fat, red city bus, and every attempt is frustrated by the cyclist who materializes in the intended lane. Now the driver joins the crowd of vehicles trying to pass me. I squeeze to the right as far as I can but with a line of impatient commuters crowding his other side, he can’t thread the needle. It’s no use anyway. Another knot of passengers waits at the bottom of the hill. The driver gives up and falls back to slow for them. Theirs is the final stop before the metro station.
It’s my last chance.
I stop pedaling and drift back into the middle of the right lane. My left hand is out. The surge of cars refuses to flag. Every driver is highly motivated to ignore me. We share a sense of urgency if not community. Each of us has somewhere to be now. Dentist, office, yoga, court. We weave. We push. The rules are posted but only loosely applied. Every vehicle, stoplight, pedestrian, and orange cone is an obstacle. The road is a chess board on crack. All pieces are in motion simultaneously and at least half of them are lethal.
I inch closer to the white line with my hand still out. Now, I am upright in the saddle and I swivel my head. Rush hour drivers are as tactical as tank commanders. The illusion of ignorance is as critical a defense as steel skin and rolled up windows. My mirror is too small for the precision required by this foray. Eye contact is necessary. People-ness occasionally triggers a breach.
One driver slows. No gesture or head nod accompanies the pause. It is a matter of seconds before she takes up the slack. I lean into the gap. It is exactly what I need and it was not required, so I wave and smile. Seven cars line up ahead in the turn lane. This is maybe an eight-car light and I’m going about the speed of a tenth. Before I have a chance to get my bearings, the green arrow flashes us into motion. I stand up on the pedals, gather breath, and push. The sun blinds me. I plow straight east and then turn hard, blowing through just before the light shows yellow. One car makes it through behind me, nipping at my heels. Then another. I glance in my mirror. I see red.
Just before the high school, a growl rattles my middle. My rival overtakes me. The crimson behemoth passes on my left. I turn off through a neighborhood shortcut and catch a last glimpse of brake lights as the bus hisses up to yet another intersection. A narrow band of bike trail carries me down under the cool concrete bridge where the drivers up above must wait to turn into the station. I-66 echoes against the bike’s metal frame and throbs into my damp skin.
I emerge, squinting into the bustling metro hub just as the bus rounds the corner. The horseshoe by the station entrance teems with taxis and pedestrians. The bus creeps through on its way to a shelter on the far side. At the bike rack, I jump off and wrestle with spiraling steel, rusted combination numbers, spokes and rubber. Across the macadam, commuters push open the doors. I unclick my chin strap and snap on my smarttrip lanyard. Our feet land on the same sidewalk at the same moment.
It’s a draw.
The man with the giant grin who passes out free newspapers beams at me. “How was the ride?” He calls.
I brush sweat from my forehead and holler back. “Victorious!”


Happy 100 Days: 67

A handful of new homes listed at 9:00 this morning. One in particular is in a neighborhood so convenient, it gives me the shivers. It is lined with trees and populated by a diverse mix of folks. Life there moves at just the right pace for us. A running trail runs right past it into the woods and over to a nature center, for goodness’ sake!
I had thought that part of town was out of my price range. This condo not only falls within the spread; it lands near the low end.
By the time I break free from my meetings and head over there, it is 2:00. My real estate agent tells me that the seller already had so many offers, she closed the door and refused to show it to anyone else.
Five hours!
In the span of about one week, this housing search morphed from a tentative learning experience to a full contact sport. My adrenaline going gangbusters. Every day a sprint against the clock. The moment my phone pings with the message that the MLS is live, I park my butt at the closest computer.
Today, the email arrives between appointments. I make a whiplash detour into a public library and log on there. The listings receive a quick scan. Google Maps spits out coordinates. The mortgage calculator chews on the numbers. Then, my zinging brain cranks out a list. The agent has it back in her box in 30 minutes. I squeeze in a few tasks for work and clear the rest of my day.
We are off to the races.
I make my way to any unfamiliar neighborhood and start walking. I talk to strangers, kids, dogs, squirrels, anyone who dares cross my path. I have made more friends in the past week than I thought possible. I’ve been hit on, been invited out for a beer, been told which units the cops live in. I have learned how to get around the old condo biddies who tattle on folks who store bikes on their patios. I hear what other people paid even before the agent has a chance to send me comps. The property manager at one place was feeling so garrulous, he didn’t realize he talked me right out of buying when he mentioned an upcoming renovation (“It’ll really increase the property values,” he told me. Yeah, I thought. Not to mention increasing the monthly fee right up and over my price range.)
All of this before the agent even shows up.
This game ain’t no season opener. We’re in the playoffs here.
I’m sure I can’t sustain this level of intensity for much longer. Eventually, the boss will grow weary of my absenteeism and my car will go on strike. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I find a place before either of those things occur.
Until then, I’m pacing in the dugout, keeping my shoulders warm and my legs limber. This gal is ready to rumble. Wind me up, watch me go!