Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Immigrants, and The Inaugural Heywood—Sort Of

I was up early last Saturday to participate in a ride out of Northfield (25 miles south of me), trying to get a jump on the day with hopes of completing the ride before forecast rains arrived in the afternoon. I tuned to the '70s music station on Sirius XM for the drive, curious to see if I could guess the month and year of Casey Kasem's Top 40 Countdown rebroadcast that was playing ('70's music will always have a special place in my heart). The first song I heard was "Wildfire" by Michael Murphy, number 29 of the countdown. I guessed the rebroadcast to be from either April or May of 1975 because that song (as songs sometimes do) always takes me back to a memory of sitting on the bus for the ride to school from my apartment in the spring of that year, my senior year. It's also a favorite song of mine. Sure enough, the show was from May 17th, 1975.

The number 22 song on the countdown was "The Immigrant" by Neil Sedaka—a song I hadn't heard in maybe decades.

I drove the stretch of Highway 19 toward Northfield listening to Neil's distinctive voice while contemplating the lyrics to the song, my thoughts drifting to the refugees and asylum seekers on our southern border whose stories have been mostly forgotten, overshadowed by the coronavirus that continues to loom over much of the world. Are we still that welcoming place we were led to believe we are; that shining city on the hill—a beacon for others to look up to? Were we ever?

I arrived at the parking lot near Bridge Square with the song still in my head where it would remain throughout the ride.

I accompanied Tammy to an appointment in South Minneapolis Monday morning for some minor surgery. I wasn't keen on hanging out in the hospital for the few hours she'd be there so I went for a walk along streets I was somewhat familiar with, having lived not far from the hospital when I lived with Noy in her home at 2406 13th Ave South from 1981-83 before we were married. I walked past her old house to have a look and reminisce for a moment before moving on.

My walk eventually took me to the Minneapolis Institute of Art where there was a striking display of thousands of life vests tied to the columns at the front of the building. The life vests were actual vests worn primarily by desperate refugees fleeing the fighting in Syria and Afghanistan before making the dangerous sea journey from Turkey to Greece in 2015-16. It was a sobering display and one that brought "The Immigrant" song to the fore of my mind again to run on a loop in my head for the rest of the day.

Is turning our backs on the crisis the response Jesus would've offered? I don't know about your Jesus, but my Jesus is better than that.

I'm saddened by what's become of our country and I wonder how much longer we can keep this fragile democracy together traveling the path we've been taken down; punishing refugees and those seeking asylum; stripping away assistance for the neediest among us to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy; ignoring the rule of law and replacing experienced civil servants with grifters loyal to a corrupt, lying, destructive, and totally incompetent president. We must do better.

(This blog entry continues below)

The ride I was taking part in Saturday morning was the inaugural Heywood ride, replacing what used to be the Almonzo gravel ride. The Heywood was actually canceled due to the pandemic but at Michael's suggestion, a handful of us decided to ride it anyway, separately, as we've been doing for the past two months of Saturday rides along various routes. It was such a fun experience. I was a little concerned going into the ride not having done this distance (110 miles, 177 km) on my gravel bike. I paced myself and settled in for a steady-Eddie approach to the distance and chipped away at it while capturing some video along the way. We couldn't have asked for better weather with moderate temps and a nice breeze at our backs for the return.

A few of us met in Bruce's backyard afterward for a celebratory beer and conversation about the ride. The social aspect of our rides has been missing of late so it was nice to be able to do this in our social-distancing way. I had to laugh, though, because at one point I had to spring up out of my chair to stretch out a cramping left hamstring. Moments later, Bruce popped up out of his seat to stretch out a cramping quadricep muscle. It's the sort of pain you earn—a pain that says, job well done!

That's all I've got.

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