Today, I attempted to go to the Midtown Market.
Since it was all sunny and pseudo-warm, I decided to break out my bike for the first time since I've been on campus. Granted, it's not really my bike; it's my dad's bike that's older than me and probably hasn't been tuned in at least 5 years. That was my first mistake. The second was thinking that I could just bike the 3.5-ish miles to the Market no sweat. At least I'd get to see more of the city, as I'm originally from Milwaukee and haven't ventured too far off campus. But I felt confident in my generally good sense of direction. That was my third mistake.
I started by going across the Washington Bridge and it was crazy windy. I was rethinking the whole biking experience but decided that I'd be okay, since I had biked hilly, hot, 40km per day in France so a little 3 mile bike ride should be fine. The chain appears to be less greased than I'd've liked, but that's what I get for riding a "classic" bike. I thought I had seen Lake in the few times that I'd been downtown and that I could just do some crissing and crossing and I'd be in the market in half an hour tops. I started to get a little panicked when I kept going west and not seeing Lake anywhere, not realizing until later the drastic difference between avenues and streets downtown. (I had gone too far past 22nd AVENUE, and Lake happens to be going parallel to where I was riding.)
I wove through cars and had many near death experiences, especially as I'm not used to toe clips or biking with a messenger bag. I was even more anxious to get there, as I saw the website and the Market looked like one of those amazing places that's slightly European and trendy.
I rode around down streets that became freeways with little warning and found myself on some recreation department bike trail. According to the map, it didn't look that far to actually get to the Market, even though I had already eaten though my half hour.
After taking the bike path in the directions I had planned on, it became hilly and very suburban. I wasn't really expecting that. And the almost suburban area was too quiet to be comforting. It's something that I can't understand about residential areas that are almost suburban: the lack of sound and activity. I grew up in a residential area, but there was always activity and some kind of noise. All I heard was a little girl and her dad, and that was only after going up yet another hill.
I finally asked someone for directions when I felt hopelessly lost. He seemed nice, but not too confident. He was in a more urban neighbourhood. The urban neighbourhoods were obviously of lower income, but there was a sense of community and happiness there that I couldn't see in the more scenic homes. Why is it that the people who make more money to have more leisure time become recluses while the "lower class" understands play and the weekend on a much better level?
I turned on to a street that was under construction and was afraid that I was holding up traffic and someone would be vicious enough to hit me because they were in a hurry or in an un-Sunday afternoon mood. There was this terror that kept me moving, even though I was just too tired to really
care if I found the Market or not.
I got to Lake and 22nd avenue, finally, and didn't see anything except a bus stop and a lot of freeways. I asked a man at the bus stop if he knew where the Midtown Market was, but he only told me about the Farmer's Market. I was sure that it was there, because of my web research beforehand. But I just felt defeated and was ready to give up, especially since there was a light rail station there.
As I was riding away, my bike in a rack, I saw a building that was very generic but possibly the Market. I was tempted to get off at the next stop and go back, but I just felt so defeated after everything I had gone through today.
Instead of observing how energy was created at the Market, I watched it drain out of me as I neared my theoretical destination. I was thinking of all these amazing and poetic things to write about, like how children use laughter as a form of releasing energy and how the sun gives energy to make beautiful produce and how the people feed energy off of each other in this open market community that I was seeking. Instead, my energy was put into the journey.
Energy isn't made or created, but is channeled though our personal determination into something worthwile. In our environment, I think I see how I use energy is more on a mental level, in some way that I find worthwile. Since we're in a society that thrives on success, energy is spent most on personal gain and happiness, meaning that energy is what pushes us to discover what that is.
I found the energy to make this winding voyage. The suburban-esque community found the energy to avoid each other, or at least avoid the outside of their homes. The urbanites used their energy to enjoy the fleeting moments of what was left of their weekend.
Maybe I'll go back next weekend, when I have more energy.