Pedaling down Congress this morning I spotted Eric crouched in a sliver of shade while waiting for a bus. I pulled up. “Shouldn’t you be in the pool?” I asked. Eric is a friend from the Y, a fellow swimmer. He looked at me. I had on a cap and sunglasses and he didn’t recognize me. Then his face lit up, “Doug!” he shouted. I wished him good morning. “Man, you’ve got to see my new mural.” Eric collects discarded cardboard and makes murals with chalk. He is an artist. “The new one is fantastic.” I ask him when I’m going to get a chance to see his work. “We’ll get around to it, man.” Eric has an enthusiasm that I enjoy soaking up. “We’ll get around to it. In the mean time I’m enjoying the highest degree of controlled insanity I’ve ever known.” I told him I was happy for him and left him, exuberant in the phrase, controlled insanity. The world needs more of that, I think.
I peddled on.
I round the corner and glide down Forest Avenue, sun on my shoulders. A couple walk toward me, a young shirtless man, his arms holding a young woman. She is resting her head on his chest and they are moving slowly, rather he is walking and she is moving as he directs. She is sobbing uncontrollably, her makeup is a liquid smear. He has one arm around her shoulder, the other gently cupping her head. He is the picture of compassion and she the picture of complete despair. My heart tore.
I peddled on.
As I pulled into the parking lot a classic 1969 Corvette rumbled past on Forest Ave, black on black with red piping on the leather seats, top down. It was driven by a silver-haired man and the woman in the passenger seat wore a white head scarf. Her deeply tanned arm rested on the door panel and I thought I saw her beating time to the music from the radio.
Returning home. I pedal on.
Spotting Stewart, my friend from Longfellow Books, I pull over and we chat about the Fourth of July fireworks last night. We agree that the addition of the Portland Symphony Orchestra was brilliant. We watched from a neighbor’s balcony while listening to the broadcast on Maine Public Radio. They played the William Tell Overture and my neighbor Mike said that the true sign of an intellectual was the ability to listen to the Overture and not think of the Lone Ranger, immediately dashing any hope I harbored for a pure life of the mind.
I pedal on.