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Crossing God

I found an old envelope and peeled the sticky part of the flap off in a long thin strip.


I had been pouring over our city’s street plans via Google Maps: a well planned network of East to West Avenues with Central Ave cutting the city in half, flanked on the top and bottom by 1st Ave N and S respectively and with Streets that run North to South, 1st St overlooking Tampa Bay, with numbers increasing as one heads west to the Gulf… all dappled by the occasional named street.


Those always throw me off. Damn named streets.


I’ve taken great time to find the most direct, yet safest “off the main road” bike path to my studio that I could find.


Seventh street.


I scrawl in black pen on the envelope strip:” 7th St” with a stubby arrow just beneath my first st, pointing to my next directional cue.


On Google maps I ride virtually south along 7th. I wonder just how far I can ride south on 7th. Is it 5th Ave N where I can no longer cut through? Or is it the busy interstate that slices right across 4th Ave N?


I zoom in… I’ll have to cut over by 7th ave N to 9th St, or Dr Mlk Jr St N… a very busy street.


But first… there’s 22nd Ave N and the 7th St intersection.


Just beyond that is Crescent Lake, stay at home moms with their pricy strollers and yoga mats sit under the shade of oak trees in haphazard circles, people jog and stroll by, past the well manicured lawns and small flocks of Muscovy ducks, their flipper-ed feet ‘thwarping’ the cool morning pavement.


On the far end of the lake the cars are parked tight along the street: pickle ball courts are in full swing.


But first… 22nd Ave N and the 7th St intersection.


I read that most crossing signals do nothing: Press the button all you want and the pre-programmed signal will signal just as it had intended, had you or had you not just touched the button.


I think about this as I dismount my heavy electric bike (no easy task considering it’s just a bit too large for me) as I walk it over to the 22nd Ave N signal button.


Traffic whizzes past me. A huge modern concrete truck, massive from a pedestrian’s perspective, roars past… a stark contrast to the remnants of quaint old red brick streets that dot areas of 7th St, quietly refusing the modern asphalt of busy aves like 22nd.


I wrangle my bike and reach out; to get to the cross walk signal I need to cross to the other side of 7th before I can safely cross 22nd Ave… no easy feat with a 75 lb bike (and saddle bags loaded with art gear, my packed lunch, my water bottle, and my tablet).


For good measure I roughly punch the large silver button several times. But it’s unnecessary, the caution lights on either side of 22nd Ave immediately become illuminated and the crosswalk, which had been almost imperceptible in the never ending promenade of swiftly moving motor-vehicles, come to life… a beacon of safe passage.


One vehicle, nearly in the crosswalk when the lights begin to flash speeds past, not even tapping the breaks, but the quickly moving east and westbound vehicles soon come to a complete stop. I resist eye contact on most occasions… crossing 22nd Ave: I make sure to stare down every driver of every vehicle.


I am a crossing God:


Insignificant, almost unnoticeable to the steady blaze of traffic speeding by; people on their way to work, brunch, yoga class, the coffee shop… now EVERYTHING and EVERYONE stops for me.


I am a crossing God.


22nd Ave parts. My safe passage down the middle, steely mechanical beasts on either side of me, brought to a complete standstill by a wave of my hand, a push of a magic silver button.


I am a crossing God.


Later on I scrawl onto my strip of paper, just under 7th St and the stubby little arrow a “15th Ave” and under that “8th St” where I’ll next head onto “7th Ave N” before turning left onto “MLK Jr St N”… and catching the bike lane down to the “Pinellas Trail.” I place this piece of paper around my bike’s handlebars, using the envelope’s adhesive to attach the strip loosely to itself, forming an “unbreakable and the safest route possible” circular directional covenant for me to follow to and from work each day.


Zero deviation.


Two crossing buttons along my route.


Both of which illuminate immediately, with a single touch.


Two silvery discs that give me the ability to part traffic, to bring everything, even if for a brief 15 seconds, to a complete and utter stand still, to effectively stop time in my little circle.


Safety.


I am a crossing God, with my papery circle of unwavering route safety and efficacy, with my bright orange helmet and matching sunnies, a little blip in a big city… for 60 seconds each day: I am a crossing God, and with me: time stands still.



Digital Collage / Design for “Crossing God”, one of my latest pieces in the works!








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