It was one of those days where I had to sell myself the platitude: Look on the bright side. But, good news first, here is an homemade card that our young nephew Oliver sent to my sweetheart and me (on the left of the image is the envelope that it arrived in—the handwriting is his mother’s, I assume)—we received it a few months ago, but I saved it to share for a time when I needed cheering up:
Awaking to an apartment that was hot and stuffy from yesterday’s lousy weather, I opened the windows, and the cool air that breezed in felt refreshing, but then I noticed a stench like burning plastic, or burning aluminum, or some such thing that smells unpleasant when burned. So I closed up the place, in spite of the nasty warmth.
A little later, I set out on my morning bike ride, and the air was murky—there was a smoky smog pervading the entire atmosphere, causing everything to look a little blurred; which is maybe normal for big cities but is strange for this small town—and that awful stench that I mentioned above was inescapable. (I can’t say for sure what caused the smell, but there was a melted carcass of a sedan on a flatbed trailer sitting outside of the elementary school at the end of our street.)
I passed a ballfield on my way to the park, and there was a game being played. It was a children’s league, so the spectators consisted mostly of the kids’ parents and relatives, who were sprawled all over the grass and the sidewalk in lawn chairs, and some were lying flat on their back on the ground. I know that this shouldn’t have bothered me, but it did. Also, automobiles were parked along both sides of the narrow street, which left me scant room to safely bike. Moreover, all of the players from each of the teams on the field, as well as the crowds who were gathered to cheer them on, were eerily quiet. I found that unnerving.
Oh, and I forgot to tell the annoying thing that happened even before I set out on my ride. I spent about half an hour writing in my diary, and, the whole time, a motorcar in the driveway down the block was blasting bass-heavy awful brainless music that infiltrated my room despite the closed windows. Why aren’t people embarrassed of their musical taste? They should listen to their tunes as Jesus commanded them to pray: in their closet, in secret. And shut the door. (Matt 6:6)
Anyway, after surviving the baseball mob and arriving at the park, I locked up my bike and started walking on the footpath. The first thing I see is a bicyclist coasting in my direction. This guy’s wearing a heavy-duty motorcycle helmet with a full shield covering his face. So that fed my paranoia. (Why would you have your visor down when you’re only riding a spindly bike through a nature park?) Then I see a toddler heading straight toward me from the grassy knoll on the right, and his mom is creeping after him. This kid keeps staring at me and lurking closer and closer; meanwhile his mom doesn’t seem to be aware of my existence at all: her eyes remain fixed on her son, to whom she continues repeating in a singsong voice: “Are you feeling friendly? Are you feeling friendly today?”
Then later at the same park I had to pass an angry couple who were waiting for their huge poodle to urinate. This poodle was the size of a pony, I swear; and it kept lifting its leg and losing its balance; then it would lift its leg again and hold the pose and yet again lose balance.
Next appeared a gentleman with bright white hair who was walking two leashed beasts of vicious aspect. I thought that things might get grim, but it turned out that this fellow was the most welcoming soul at the park today: for he smiled when he passed! That made up for everything.
But one last bad scene happened, which I cannot forget. On my way home, as I was approaching the crosswalk, I stopped far back away from the road to take a sip from my canteen; but a blonde minivan, instead of driving past, came to a full stop; so all the cars behind it had to stop as well. Then a string of cars traveling from the opposite direction approached the same crosswalk and, one after the next, zoomed past without stopping—as they should; for I was nowhere near the road: my feet were off the bike’s pedals and planted on the earth; I was sipping my beverage, with obviously zero intention of crossing the road. But that single blonde minivan was obstinate: it refused to budge. Then its driver began blaring the horn and gesturing at the vehicles that passed, cursing them for not minding the crosswalk.
Eventually the oncoming traffic also stopped, thus cars were lined up on either side of the road. I began to fear that if I didn’t cross now, the street might remain jammed like this forever. So, amid the sea of stalled, impatient drivers, like some dwindled incarnation of a modern-day Moses, I got on my bike and rode to the other side.
My recount of that last event might not sound too scary to you, dear reader, but I assure you that, after experiencing it, I was trembling for the rest of the ride home. I guess I’m easily rattled.