Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Why I Walk All Around

Today a middle aged man asked me if I needed a ride. He had a mustache and a belly, and a big bad car and enough passenger space to go around. I suppose he thought I was hot, which I was, and I suppose he thought I was tired, and that's true too, but I also suppose that he thought I was younger than I am and his SUV screamed pedophile and I shied away. I walked away. People who ask you if you need a ride rarely have your well being in mind. No one has ever stopped and asked if they could walk with me. I wonder why.
I walk. I walk. I walk around town. I walk up hills and down hills. I walk when it is hot, and it is so damn hot. I walk when it is cold and I do not like the cold, but the more you walk the more you warm up and so if you are out in the cold you might want to walk a little further. I walk further. I walk miles, I walk acres, I walk leagues. Sometimes when I walk it begins to rain, and sometimes the sun shines too bright on my face. I walk through parks. I walk across parking lots. When there is heavy rain the street down from my house floods and I have forded that stream. I will wade, I don't care. I jump over curbs, I trip over curbs. Sometimes I fall down. I hear the birds. I smell the flowers. I know where all the secret fruit is. I see it, I see it, I walk.
When I was sixteen and got hit by a car while walking to school it did not make me afraid of walking, it made me afraid of driving. Far more frightening than getting hit by a car is the idea of taking someone else's legs, taking someone else's life. It happens in a sneeze, it happens in a cd change, it happens when the phone rings, these cars are far too big to be tossed so casually through our towns. But still, I have a car. I do.
I like my car. I like my car for the freedom it represents, for the tiny home it can be if need be. If you want, and you have no kids, you can get in your car and go. If it rains for too long and you get tired of rain you can drive your way out of it, even if it takes 500 miles. Even if you are up near Canada and it does not stop raining till you hit San Francisco, you can go in a car. I know you can, I've done it.
And I understand tired, and I like my car when I am tired and hungry and the store seems so far away, or I have to get laundry detergent and kitty litter and a bag of grapefruit, yes, I like my car. Then there are children, I understand kids, they need a place to sit and not be herded down the street like so many ducks. I understand old, I understand broken, I understand sick. But I can walk. I walk because I can.
I walk and I am so aware that one day I will not be able to walk anymore. One day, without knowing it, I will have my last slice of cake. One day I will make love for the last time. One day I will kiss a baby and then never kiss a baby again. One day I will sit down and I will never get up. I hope that day is the day I die, but death or no that day will come. But not today, today I walk.
I love it so the movement of my thighs, I love the ground under my feet so sure and the sky above my head. I love the air that always moves as long as I am moving and the shady parts and the sunny ones. I love the secret garden glimpses, the broken blue and green glass sparkles, the forgotten toys, the half buried marbles. I love the photographs I find, the half eaten cookies, the love notes that lay rain stained and hopeful on the ground. I put them in my pocket. I'm always finding treasures.
When I walk my mind is busy and then it slows down and that is when I think my deep thoughts and tell myself the best stories. The one where I save the world! The one where the boy sings so sweet! The one where the little girl is born away into the mountain and a stick doll left in her place! The awfulest death! The grand revenge! The truest love! Or if not stories I think of the world, of the people's fish-eyed faces as they pass so quickly. They look so tired. They look so bored. They don't even think that they might sneeze and change some one's life forever. That is a story right there.
I think of the oil that gushes into the Gulf. I think about the pod of dolphins that surrounded my parent's boat the last time they were out there and I wonder where they will go and if they'll be alright. I think about the tiny creatures out there that will die and then the larger creatures that eat the tiny creatures. I walk and I think and I look at the people in their cars, so many times just one person in these giant machines that we love to carry us around.
I think about obesity, and fast food, and drive-thrus and how they won't let you walk through the drive-thru, you have to go inside and open that door one more time, let out the air conditioning that needs to run to cool the air over all those friers, over all those grills. I think about how we are set up to want the food that tastes so good that is so cheap and want it fast and want it the same way every time in every city we go to. How we are taught that we deserve a treat, a snack, a fourthmeal that comes to us shipped across the country in giant trucks from slaughter houses where the workers are paid so little, where the land is cleared to make room for the animals, where it takes so much energy to make these cheap and easy meals that cost us so much in our health, and I do not have an answer for this. People must work. People must eat. We are all on a timetable. We are all tired, we are all hungry. And who am I to say that people should walk?
It is obesity. It is oil. It is money. It is all connected, and when I am walking I can fit it all together in my mind so that it works and seems so obvious. But. But see, I love to walk. I have these legs that work and feel so good. I have this strong back, these hungry eyes, these endless ridiculous stories. I have time to walk because walking is part of my life that I love. It is not a way to get from here to there, it is an action that calms my anxiety and quiets my mind. It is one of my good good things.
I have never walked so far that I fell down, unable to go any further. That must mean that I can always take one more step, and one more step after that. I am amazed by that, by what my body can do. It is wonderful to be amazed by small things.
I do not judge people for sitting still, and nor would I ever think that anyone should be more like me. I am just glad that in this way I am the way I am. I walk. I walk. I will keep on walking, as long as I possibly can.

21 comments:

Steph(anie) said...

May, you've helped me answer a question that I can't explain just yet, but thank you. Thank you a thousand times.

A said...

This is gorgeous. It makes me remember a time when I took a 2 1/2 hour walk across Paris early every morning, savoring everything and the feeling of walking through it.

juancho said...

Do you feel like walking to my house and visiting my lonely cat?

Ms. Moon said...

Daddy and I just walked down to the blackberry patch and came home with two gallons of fruit and scratches all over our arms but still- two gallons of fruit! And then we walked back and I thought about the time a neighbor of mine joined me at the blackberry patch when I was perfectly happy and content by myself and she DROVE HER CAR the one block to get there and it pissed me off.
We come from walking humans. Our ancestors, whoever they were, walked here. I can tell you that. Some of them, anyway.
And this was one of the most beautifully written things I can ever recall reading and it says exactly what I have thought so many times as I walked.
I love you.

Bethany said...

beautiful. this writing was like all those walks. i love your rhythm and mind and poetry.
i'm glad you're walking.
i'm walking too.

michelle said...

We deliberately live in a place where so much is within walking distance. Unfortunately, I don't manage my time well enough to take advantage of that. It's something I need to work on.

I know someone who is a Buddhist monk and he walks for peace. He's walked from NY to California. He walked the US/Mexican border. He walked across Europe to concentration camps in Germany. He walked across the West Bank spending time in Israel and Palestine.

Walk on.

Elizabeth said...

I usually hate to say it because it sounds so pretentious but I will, anyway.

Brilliant.

And you must, you must, you must, read Joshua Ferris' book about a man that can't stop walking. It's strange and original and weird and wonderful, and I think you'd really like it. It's called The Unnamed.

Django said...

I like when you write the talk about walking your walks. I can hear you saying these things on the phone late at night.

Walking is good for you. Specifically for you. It makes your body stronger. And your brain bigger. I wish I could read the stories you write in your head while you walk.

ZenGato said...

I thought I was the only one to play stories in my head when I walked. I can walk miles and miles until I conclude the stories I write. They are magical and wonderful. And like a Chose Your Own Adventure tale, I can do the same story again and again, always with a different out come. Keep on walking, dancing girl.

Mwa said...

I love to walk as well. I chuck the child in the pram and off I go. And I do think about the sneezes when I drive and I am terrified, but I will not not go where I want, even though sometimes closer by would be better. When Babes and I were getting to know each other, we used to walk for hours and hours. I'm sure it's how we fell in love. And when we walk now we fall in love again. Sometimes that's all we do when we go out together now - walk.

Lovely post.

Jo said...

See, Dan, that's what I was thinking. That and what Mary said. Maybe I didn't make it up after all.

Gorgeous,gorgeous, May. This is a folk song, this is a truth.

wv: ablerr!

May said...

I love all these stories about walking! Aren't we the same animals, even though we are all so very different?

Steph- You are certainly welcome! But really, thank YOU. I would like to hear the question if you can think of it. I know what you mean about that though, I love it when that happens. Answers to unasked questions, I mean.

A- Thank you for stopping by and for your story. When you were in Paris did you notice that Parisians walk differently than we do? They take more full advantage of their legs, I think.

Mama- I just love you so much. You and Daddy. So many blackberries! I want them! Are they almost all done? I need to come out to pick.
And of course, we are walking humans. I think about those ancestors walking such great distances a lot. I read somewhere that walking upright is the reason we have these big butts, but then I think we've discussed that before.

Bethany- Thank you for your sweet words. I'm glad you're walking too.

Michelle- I would like to know that man. I would like to walk with him for a while. Actually, I would like to walk with you for a while. I could help you carry your groceries. That would be nice.

A said...

"When you were in Paris did you notice that Parisians walk differently than we do?"

Yes, absolutely. I imitated them. I pretended. People assumed I was French unless I had to say something complicated.

Danielle said...

ah may..that is so beautifully written..its intense and deep and i so understand it..because i wlak all the time too...i m not allowed to drive a car because i m an epileptic and so i have an armada of people as well as cabs who drive me where i wnat to be but still i walk miles and miles each day because i need it..just the other day i spoke to jo about how often i think about going on a pilgrimmage again..walking walking walking...because to me walking is meditation..i hate running but love walking..when i walk the world vanishs..is gone...but my mind unfolds..my head opens...all things in my head turn round an dround...i wrote whole stories in my head while walking...

Danielle said...

vw was: troomor..because i troo-ly want mor of ur poetic writing

May said...

Juancho- I cannot go a walking to visit your cat. I am sorry. I have to work. Someday I shall walk to your house! And then perhaps you will walk me home.

Elizabeth- Thank you for the book recommendation. I have written it down and I will check to see if our library has it, it sounds wonderful. I need book recommendations because I love to read so much but I am truly terrible at picking out books that I've heard nothing about.

Django- You have heard me talk about walking late at night and you have heard some of the stories in my head. Thank you for letting me babble on so many many times. And thank you for walking me home sometimes.

ZenGato- Isn't it funny the things we do that we think are so odd because no one talks about them? I like your comparison to a choose your own adventure, because I do the same thing. I will worry a story for months! I used to call them my "imaginings". I didn't know other people really did that until I read some that David Sedaris wrote down of his own. His, of course, are hilarious.

Mwa- You are so lovely. Your story about you and Babes walking and falling in love makes me so happy. Isn't it better to walk when you get to know someone rather than sit at fancy restaurants and try to come up with things to say? Words come easier when walking. Or maybe I just think so because I am so painfully socially awkward.

Jo- You make me feel good down deep in my heart. Thank you.

A- Yes! Now I want to go walk around Paris. That is my very favorite thing- to fall into a city and just walk around and around for days.

Danielle- I didn't know you are epileptic. I'm sorry, perhaps you told me and I forgot.
So many times when you comment I want to say, "Me too! Me too!" I also love walking but hate running. I tried for a while and it never got fun. I would like to hear about your pilgrimages. If you go on another one, perhaps I can meet you and we can walk a ways together. Unless it is something that must be done alone. I understand that too. All this talk is making me want to go go go. It's so simple, walking. You just step out the door and keep going.

Petit fleur said...

I'd love to hear those walking stories too.

I am always transported by your imaginings and your stories and your beautiful mind and heart... and how you stamp your own personal voice- signature on your every expression of experience.

Love you,
pf

All This Trouble... said...

I had an accident and I can't walk right now. I can't bear any weight at all. Not one step without the crutches but I've been here before. I've been broken and chopped up and bedbound before. I'll walk again and just like you, I'll keep walking until I no longer can.

Thanks, May. You have such a delightful mind.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Wish I could walk with you. One day we will. My fat ass needs the exercise. Maybe I will write a corresonding entry to yours called: I Sit. I sit because I am a lazy fat ass. . . .

I think I have my opening line!

I love you dear girl.

Elly Lou said...

I think it's the Irish that say, "Everywhere is in walking distance...if you have the time." I love that saying. And walking. And this post.

Kimber Leszczuk. said...

I love walking!

This post was so beautifully written. I am left mostly speechless. Nothing I say could do it justice.