Near Misses

This morning I clocked in at 15 mph. And I think I could have gone faster still. Had it not been for the old man in the middle of the street explaining to his wife how the L trains in Chicago work, I would have had a straight shot to the next light. You see, if I time my commute just perfectly, there’s always one golden minute, 60 pure seconds, that makes my entire day.

During this holy moment, the gods of everything just and beautiful in the world are all in perfect harmony, granting me five glorious blocks from Calhoun Street to Jackson Street of radiant white silhouettes of what I can only assume is also someone rollerblading. This gives me the perfect opportunity to test my range of speed.

My last train pass expired around the same time summer crept in, and I’ve been skating to work since then.

In the beginning I was late a lot. You see, I value my sleep immensely. Every second is important.

So when I found out that I can make it to Harold Washington by 6 a.m. if I am out the door by 5:45, my whole outlook on mornings changed. They went from a monotonous ride in a tube that smelled like dry vomit to an addicting, exhilarating and adrenaline-filled challenge.

Every morning I put on the same playlist. If it’s timed perfectly I should arrive at Lake Street just as “Another One Bites the Dust” begins. I start my watch speedometer and then start flying. If it’s a really good morning, there are hardly any people to avoid.

Even though my end goal is speed, what makes it truly exhilarating is all the “near misses” — all of the times I’ve come so close to a situation that could have very easily turned into something much worse. With speed comes risk.

The faster I go, the closer I come to making the light before the cars have stopped.

The faster I go, the harder I could potentially hit the ground, or like this morning, the older man in a green flannel pointing up at the train.

He was walking so fast at first. I anticipated him all wrong.

I was going to just miss him, but he stopped walking out of nowhere, ruining my premeditated trajectory. He grabbed the nape of his wife’s collar and directed her attention up rather abruptly. I veered left, barely missing him and stumbled to a stop in the middle of Lake Street, just as Freddie Mercury was about to interlude and right as a food truck turned the corner. I saw it just in time to grab the bumper and swing myself around to a climactic stop.

This morning was terrifying. When I got to the bench outside of the library, I sat down and traded my rollerblades for Oxfords. Only then was I able to enjoy the “near miss. ” The closer I get, the better the miss feels. The thrill will be worth it until it’s not one day. Maybe then I’ll stop.

By: Susana Duffy ~Guest Writer~