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.