Wednesday, June 1, 2011

following the street sweeper

first of all, I understand they're not really sweepers. they're probably called "cleaners," and I think they have a series of brushes under them that kind of scour the road, and then pick up what's pick-up-able.

but my romantic soul is pleased by the term "street sweeper," and not so pleased by the term "street cleaner." thus, sweeper.

second, they are a lovely thing.
I lived for many, many years on a street that never saw or felt a street sweeper. when I moved into "the city" itself, I found that we receive many such services that weren't available out in the burbs. having someone come by and remove all the rubble and gunk from the gutters by one's curbs is a beautiful thing.

what's even more wonderful is when they remove all the rubble and gunk from the bike lanes.
this is a lovely, beautiful, fantastic gift.
my gratitude for the service provided is huge.
however . . . the other day I was riding up emigration, noticing how nice and clean the bike lane was, when I saw dust and dirt being whipped into the air by the wind. funny, it didn't feel that windy: I decided it must have just been a gust. a little micro burst. a little micro burst that kept whipping dirt and dust into the air.

as I rounded a bend, and then another, I realized that the immense, slow-moving street sweeping machine was up ahead, visible through the dust storm it was busily creating. and I seemed to be pedaling just a bit faster than the machine was moving, drawing closer and closer to the swirling sediment.

decision time: could I move fast enough to pass it, or was I doomed to sit behind it, drinking in the dust? the clean, debris-free lane was fabulous, but the dirt kicked up into the air was miserable. I put on the speed, lungs aching, quads screaming, and swooped up ahead into clean air. and rocks, gravel, cinders, salt, twigs, bug carcasses and other unidentifiable debris under my wheels.

friendships are like following street sweepers. there are benefits--significant ones--and sometimes, a little mess and discomfort. I'm terribly grateful for street sweepers, but there are moments when being around them is painful, uncomfortable, okay, even miserable.

but the joy they bring into my life is real: they smooth my way, they allow me to widen my path and be more carefree. I can be less vigilant, I am gleeful in the freedom to ride without fear of flatting on glass shards, or sliding on debris, or bumping over rocks.

friends smooth my way, introduce me to wider paths, share my glee and fearlessness, supporting who I am and where I wish to go. and at times they throw dust up, complicating my experience, demanding more from me than I may feel able to give.

I'll keep the street sweeper, anyday, and my friendships, too. the benefits far, far outweigh the drawbacks. and it's okay to take a little dirt in the air when a smoother ride is the end result.

No comments: