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Closing the circle

The ride

A recent entry was "I have bicycled". Wednesday I could have posted "I have bicycled a lot more". I set out to wander, first down Rindge, until I remembered a putative farmers' market at Davis. I don't think it's started up yet (in the year), but that brought me near a bike trail leading off Davis. Which turned out to be the Minuteman Bike Trail. Which turned out to go on forever. First to Alewife -- so I could bike to TJ, though I'm not sure how long it'd take -- and then to where it could go to Belmont but doesn't because they're taking over a year to redo whatever they're doing (did I mention the Porter Square elevator is being rebuilt over the next year? A year. One elevator.) but does still go toward Arlington, and then on to Lexington, and then beyond. (Yes, Lexington as in Lexington and Concord from Revolutionary US history.) I was two hours outbound -- including wrong turns and breaks -- to 5 or 10 minutes past Lexington center, and an hour inbound without breaks. One way distance looked like 8.75 miles on Google Earth. I slowed down at the end, but we're probably talking 11 miles an hour... I had phone-GPS timing me, at 3-8 meters/second, with 5 being modal. That's 6.7, 17.9, and 11.2 miles per hour. Fits with the road bikes zooming past me.

Highlights: there's still snow on the path! Little piles on the side, but still! Some lake or pond I went over. Checking out some history plaques in Lexington -- bike trail used to be rail line, and I'd rather still have a good train, honestly. Coming back, I returned to what I thought of as "some random intersection in West Cambridge, Harvey and something", until GPS told me 'something' was Mass. Ave, and I could just ride home rather than continuing back to Davis Square. And it soon looked somewhat familiar, I think from when I'd been exploring while staying at Davis Square. -- Mass. Ave northbound is a tease: bike lane, no lane, bike lane, no lane. Cars trying to crush you regardless of lane. Meanwhile north of Porter the sidewalk is huge and almost untrafficked. You're not supposed to ride on it, but the incentives don't really encourage rule-following.

It may have been my longest bike ride ever -- certainly one of the longest. (Yeah, 18 miles isn't much, for many, but my biking is mostly making walkable distances easier especially with bags, not unwalkable distances.) It could have been longer; I turned back mostly because I knew there was an hour before sundown, and after 6 months of storage my headlight batteries need recharge or replacement.

Not so highlight: as with many other times I've had an unusual burst of exercise, I got sick the next day. Mild fever (maybe) and sore throat, still with me today. Great timing, given the big "meet the never-met side of the family" meeting scheduled for today. Which I went to, since I wasn't *that* sick.


How'd it go? A lot better than it could have. This is the family side I grew up thinking of as "a zillion cousins whom I've never met and I'm probably not missing much" due to presumed differences in religion and education if not intelligence. My father and his siblings were basically divorced, as it were, and I heard a bit about depressed childhood silences or something. And on my part, not only was I sick, but I got like 4-5 hours of sleep last night -- no idea why, I didn't feel worried or stressed, I just didn't feel that tired and wasn't falling asleep despite hitting bed at a fine hour (I'm guessing last night's watching of Hayate the Combat Butler did not drain the brain of glucose the way reading two Rosemary Kirstein novels the day before did) -- and when I got up I didn't feel hungry -- common when sleep-deprived -- and didn't eat, until I was just leaving then did feel hungry and could only grab a bit of snack. So sick, tired, sleep-sick, and hungry Damien, meeting unknown family of divergent background. Could have been awkward.

But it went quite well, I thought. The relatives who got me at Alewife are a couple of friendly nerds, which is a great way to bring me in, Aunt L was quite talkative and friendly, and I got along with the other relatives I talked to. And my energy was adequate, as was my voice. I learned a fair bit about the family, both dry family tree stuff I'd asked about but would need better notes for, and little details that explain some things, such as the family having been rather better off before the Depression, while my father was born in the Depression. Family depression connectible to the Depression, not just being poor but notably poorer. Met people I'd like to see again, ate good chicken -- a good day.

Relative M asked if it was weird, meeting a bunch of strangers and getting asked the same thing over and over ("Why'd you move to Boston? Where do you live? What do you do?") but I figured that was part of the family-prodigal experience. Honestly nothing was as weird as meeting a maternal cousin in Conn. 10 years ago and opening the silverware drawer and going "...I grew up with these." (Aunts had given duplicate sets to my mother and cousin's mother.)

Circle closing

My father grew up in Boston, of course. (Before the Depression, they were in Conn. Huh.) I've lived in LA where my mother grew up, SF where my parents met, and now am in Boston. (I'm fudging, here: Pasadena/Hollywood, SF/Berkeley, Cambridge/Jamaica Plain.)

And apparently the bike trail that got me sick goes not too far from Aunt L's house, so if I can get the stamina or warmth to keep going a few miles past Lexington I could visit on my own power. Or take the bike on the commuter rail and bike the two? four? less than twelve! miles over.



( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Apr. 16th, 2011 11:34 pm (UTC)
Go out to Concord soon! Patriots Day is Monday!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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