The night before, I told my colleagues I planned to bike the 4 flat miles to dinner to meet them. It was snowing, I was told. Drivers here can't deal with snow, they said. And if you use non-main roads, police will look at you askance, and when you get carded things will go downhill quickly.
The light changed behind me and traffic began flowing in the lanes beside me. I had no idea what the law said here in terms of required clearance for passing a bike, but no one was uncomfortably close. Unlike the other 2 bridges I'd already crossed (one for non-motorized vehicles only, another with a sidewalk and a bike lane), this bridge had no provision for bikes, and no signs even suggesting it as a route. A police car passed, not even slowing to check me out. I felt no danger.
The wisecracks that were made had scantly veiled concerns that I neither took my safety nor my responsibilities seriously enough, and as I had pushed along the street through an industrial neighborhood en route to that point, I considered why. I felt futility at meeting the world's expectations of what I was supposed to be. Fairly certain for most of my life that I could never be that person, I'd shaped myself around the idea that I could prove so many instances of "You can't do that" were untrue. And so the ongoing challenge of my existence is attempting to balance on the tightrope crossing the chasm separating safety and sanity.