In a quest to prove that I have a life outside of nursing, there’s a new catchphrase…”nursing, it’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle!” Too pretentious? Maybe a bit. Anyways in pursuit of that goal, I have been getting on my bike and riding. Nothing clears the smell of poop and yeasty nether regions better than a spin though a polluted urban core. Mmmmmm, smog.
Being the altruistic guy I am, also figuring I could do the ride for free and get a free T-Shirt (note the theme here…), I signed up to be a medical rider. Really all I was to be was a quick triage nurse, maybe a fixer of minor issues, but for anything major I was to call EMS. No heroics. It was a leisurely jaunt through urban Portland on what is usually and historically one of the hottest days of the year here in Stumptown. Not this year.
I got off the MAX in the morning and it was drizzling. Nothing to even worry about, just that damp haze of a fall morning here in the Northwest. But it was chilly, for summer. Got all settled in, picked up my fancy traffic vest and free t-shirt and headed back towards the back of the staging area. In front were the 40 milers, who were the usual group of hammerheads and folks who believe spandex is a fashion statement. Not us in the back. We were the cruisers. Families, folks hauling trail-a-bikes and kid trailers. We were there to have fun. Which I sure did. Were my medical skills needed? Nope. Only saw an issue once and it was all taken care of by the time I got there. I put my mechanical skills to work, once again wishing for the fable 3rd arm I was supposed to have been issued after nursing school. But that was it. No crises. Never had to call EMS. Never really got out of breath. All in all a fun ride. Even had a free sundae after the ride. How can you beat that? It was too early to grab a pint, so a sundae was the best I could do.
The funny thing is the difference 10-15 years can make on an area. Even though I had spent time in the neighborhoods we rode through before I left town for nursing school, I didn’t realize how much of a change had overtaken some of the areas. It can only be described as the inexorable advancement of “progress”, or as some will call it, gentrification. I earned my first degree in the middle of the ‘hood. Right around where the ride took us. We had drive-by’s and stabbings on the nearby blocks all through school. I regularly rode my bike through these neighborhoods, quickly. I got hollered at. I had to high-tail it a couple of times. Saw drug deals, hooker deals, stolen cars, knew the local crack houses (by reputation only!), it was not a great place. But it had a soul, a certain life to it. There was a bright side tot he darkness.
Now approx. 12 years later, it has changed. There has been an influx of folks snatching up the houses whose prices were depressed by the rampant criminal nature of the area and slowly changing the character of the area. The park where you could not walk at night and folks lit up crack in broad daylight in the benches now has families playing there. It’s a different ‘hood. Folks are more likely to roll the Prius than an Impala. It felt kind of weird being back there. The flavor has changed, but maybe not totally for the better. What happens to the folks that had traditionally lived there? Sure the bad element was pretty overpowering, but mostly they were good folks. I know they’ve been driven out due to rising housing costs that come along with gentrification. I understand that this happens in urban cores, but it made me feel bed for the vibrant community that had been displaced. But it was nice to be back. It was nice to ride on a grid versus the winding mayhem of suburban hell. I felt right at home. It also made me realize I need to move back there, suburban living is bad for my soul.
I have another couple of posts brewing…I just have to re-read and edit them until I’m happy. Til’ later…