In my pursuit of knowing the world, I forget to poke around in my own backyard. Sunday’s Death Cab for Cutie concert in my old haunt of Milwaukee, Wisconsin reminded me I should step out into the backyard a lot more.
Granted, I don’t drive, and in the heartland of the country where the gas-powered vehicle is practically worshipped and entire neighborhoods designed to funnel cars at the expense of the pedestrian, exploring my backyard is difficult. Every day I reluctantly play a life-threatening game of chicken with monsters of steel barreling down on me in their mad rush to work. My walking commute often involves a dash across the intersection as these frenzied beasts, their humans safely ensconced inside the metal and glass bubble, honk at me for daring to cross on my walk signal.
Yes, this is not a corner of the country designed for easy exploration by the un-vehicled. Bus and train connections are few and inconveniently timed. Bike trails are growing, but slowly. In some communities sidewalks are nonexistent, a troubling conundrum for the pedestrian in the Wisconsin winter when huge plowed snowbanks obliterate any semblance of a shoulder to dive into when a car rushes past.
I was in luck Sunday. I recruited a willing participant to act as driver. We drove down highway 41 towards Milwaukee, a two-hour journey that involved dodging severe thunderstorms swiftly approaching in a huge mass of angry, dark clouds from the West, strong car-tossing wind gusts, and a bottleneck from an accident that developed so suddenly on the storm-slicked roads that we thanked our lucky stars we were not thirty seconds sooner. Amazing how thirty seconds can possibly change your life.
Eventually we reached our reward as we walked along Milwaukee’s Riverwalk, the building lights frolicking in the river’s wind-tortured surface. The hot, breathy wind of impending storms chased us into the intimate Riverside Theatre. Death Cab for Cutie did not disappoint, their intoxicating mix of indie, psychedelic, acoustic, and alternative rock transporting us away from the stress of the drive.
We emerged satisfied and soothed, the city damp with the expired storm, and vowing to make the trek again. Our only regret – we did not leave early enough to duck into one of Milwaukee’s many micro-breweries lining the river.
There’s always next time.