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Blind Spots

We have a new bridge in town. I have an unnatural appreciation for this bridge--its gorgeous taco shape with sinewy arches and otherworldly access to herons and one flashy swan. And what I truly love is that the bridge connects three parks in my beloved city, effectively creating a green space larger than New York's Central Park. Can you imagine? So much adventure to be had!

My affinity goes so deep that I finagled a spot for our bike shop to be on the committee to celebrate the bridge. Months of planning finally resulted in a parade and ribbon cutting ceremony last week. Loads of Salemanders came out to celebrate, navigating time changes and a scorching heat wave: a bag piper, color guard, dignitaries, prerequisite flag wavers (it was a parade after all) and folks who could escape work on a Wednesday morning--plus us! Peyton, Justin, and I grabbed bikes and took up the rear, leaving space between us and the crowd so that we could take it all in and not run anyone over. That is until an older woman obliviously stepped out in front of me forcing me to brake hard and cut over so that I didn't hit her. No contact was made, but she quickly lashed out, berating me for riding bikes and being unsafe. Her lecture continued, mumbling about irresponsible parents, bikes, and how the city should do something about people like me.

"But this is my parade!" I wanted to shout. "Thanks for embarrassing me in front of my kids!" was the second shout that wanted to come out, followed by "You're a ridiculous human being and your hat is dumb!" None of these thoughts were vocalized nor did I punch her as my little fist wanted to. Instead, I took my sunglasses off, stared at her, and then asked the kids to get off the bikes. We were going to walk.

Should I have defended us? We truly didn't do anything wrong. Perhaps, I should have struck a more balanced response, but what I saw in her, after taking a deep breath, was a woman who was taken off guard and reacted out of proportion to the offense. She didn't see us coming and no amount of argument would warm her up to the idea that we had every right to share the space with her. So we created our own space, making our own parade, one without her. As we rounded the corner of the parade path, the new bridge in sight, I felt awash with calm, as it forced me to remember why we were there to begin with: to celebrate a bridge that connects our city in ways we've never been connected--that we can do things in ways that have not yet been done before.

No one will stop our parade.

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