Baltic-American
Freedom Foundation

Participant Blog

On the morning comute.

I wake up from the sound of trash collectors pulling up to my block. I hear them haul out the garbage containers; voices in the street and a distant noise of traffic. My studio has a glass wall in the south and smaller windows in the east and north walls, so I hear everything that goes on outside – night-time visitors, crashing gates, howling of a half-crazed junky and laughter of late-night party goers call out to each other in cheerful voices in the deathly silence of the night.

Sun is shining through the blinds, but I don't open them as I will be gone in less than half an hour. I make a three-egg omelet with cheese and boil some water for the tea. Meals in solitude are especially miserable, so I conduct an imaginary dialogue with one of my friends, who are left behind in the homeland: "Do you like these eggs?", "No, they are much smaller than the ones I am used to, even though it says on the package 'Large Eggs'.", "Do you think, maybe, it is because they are organic?", "And what does that suppose to mean – all the other eggs are grown in vats?".

I have no car, and my metro card saw just one use – on the day of it's purchase, when Cadia dragged me, dazed and confused into the train station and made me feed a twenty dollar note into the slot of a greased terminal. Good for God-knows how many rides – only I don't like the bus or the metro. Riding one is like sharing an overly large mortuary cell with a number of other hapless human beings: it is cold inside, much too cold for my liking. Despite the cold you can smell a musty odor of human bodies and burnt rubber permeating the interior of the bus. Army vets, office clercs and service workers are riding downtown on the freeway, each one plugged into his own device or a newspaper, or a cheap novel. The only time I rode with Lamsy and Cadia they buried themselves into Atlas Shrugged – seemingly racing each other to the end of the book while I tried to catch a glimpse of the city through graffiti-covered glass. The journey took us much longer than I expected and the city seemed to be incomprehensible in it's scale. It probably still is, only I have managed to segregate it into manageable parts, discounting the neighborhoods as 'the surrounding' and lumping Downtown, Coral Gables, Little Havana and Miami Beach into a loose category of 'my city'.

Since my first monday I rode a bicycle – a Scott, somewhat of a hybrid between a mountain bike and a highway urban variation. It is cheap, relatively light, and handles the road rather well. I don't follow the freeway and try to keep clear of anything that has more than two lanes – traffic jams are worse on freeways, hence the frustration of the bus ride that takes longer than a pedal through the hoods. I take the Venetian Causeway – a series of artificial islands connected with drawbridges, housing the wealthy and the not-so wealthy, each one just a collection of gated communities and your typical suburban subdivisions. Unfortunately, ever since I came to Miami the road works on the causeway were taking place. Judging by the staling machinery and the lethargic workers, it will be a long time before any of it is complete. The two traffic lanes have been compressed into one and in places one can't avoid brushing either the cars or the concrete barricades. The tarmac is a patchwork with all the smoothness and stability of a mountain pass, some justification for my choice of a Scott. But still the Causeway is the fastest part of my comute.

Coming off the last bridge I cut through downtown, going along the elevated metro line and the equally elevated people-mover line – a somewhat ridiculous two segment shuttle that follows a monorail and has little rubber wheel, seemingly brought to this reality from an 80's sci-fi show. I cross the Miami River via one of the bridges, passing under Interstate 95 that cuts off the downtown from the rest of the city. Just north of here it crosses 395 in a monstrous four-level stack interchange the size of a neighborhood – an eldritch horror from the depth that got beached and now lays sprawled on the edge of the Atlantic with innocent lives crushed underneath.

Once I reach the South-West 1st Street the passage becomes bearable again. I go along avenues and streets, snaking through the grid…