That’s that! I’ve had enough. And without another thought, without a look back I am on my way, shoelaces trailing, hair streaming, papers flying. Loose ends follow me all the way to the door, cajoling, wheedling, yanking me back. But I pull past and with a sharp snap the door shuts behind me.
So simple! Move from one place to another. One foot in front of the other. Repeat and repeat and repeat. It is the most practical thing in the world. But today I don’t feel in the least bit practical.
A Noticing Walk
I am moving, my feet going and going on the sidewalk, a conveyer belt to the whole neighborhood.
To my left, tough gnarled old trees are crammed into plots barely bigger than a breadbox, squeezed into their spaces like a fat lady’s foot in a too tight shoe. The trunks writhe and twist, their branches reaching up to the sky to sway to some etherial sound, undulating to unheard music, perhaps a concert played by God Himself.
My stride lengthens.
To my right, the houses are tucked in tight, neat and tidy, like a riffled shuffled deck of cards. A hedgerow stands shoulder to shoulder, in tight verdant formation. A few steps on a fence tightly buckles in a yard, unable to contain the voluminous hydrangeas spilling over the buckle of the gate. Just beyond, spied through a tangle of branches, a tiny hidden playhouse, complete with miniature yellow Adirondack chairs, a perfect replica of the big house just beyond.
An untrimmed hedge, tendrils shyly reaching out as if for comfort. Gaudy necklaces of flowers ring the gardens. A few pugnacious weeds elbow their way through the cracks in the pavement.
Then a break through the hedge and I am at the shore. The world seems somehow wider, so expansive that my vision cannot take it all in. In front of me is a carpet of water, the sky layered above, clouds littered carelessly on top. Gradations of Rothko blue.
A gust and the clouds gambol through the sky. I am once again on my feet. With the whoosh of wind, I am remembering.
A Drifting Walk
The whoosh of wind. I remember my youngest sister, slight and small, was so delicate and light that my Dad would joke, we all would joke, “that she could blow away in a big gust of wind.”
We laughed but I always worried. I could see her carried off her feet, snatched by the wind, her fine straight pixie cut blown back. her hands reaching out imploringly, her eyes dark and frightened. I would save her, I would save her for sure, by grabbing her by her red sneakered foot and pulling her back, bringing her back down to earth.
Back on solid ground, my middle sister and I, both of us bigger, stronger, watchful, would then take her hands and walk together. We would find the ice cream truck. I held the dimes for the Eskimo Pies. Sitting on the front stoop, each of us would be in a race against the sun to eat before the vanilla would melt into rivulets, the chocolate sheaths slipping to the pavement. After a few tentative bites, the littlest sister would ask for help to finish hers. And we helped her.
As I walk on, the air becomes dense, almost damp as the clouds above darken and hover.
An Imaginary Walk
Through the window, I can see clouds are gathering, dark and threatening. There’s not much time. I change my shoes and slip out of the office, climb up the dim stairwell. Shove open the doorway to the roof.
I am all alone up here.
The air has a heavy, muscular quality and I can almost see the delicate scribbles of the wind, the advance guard of the coming storm. There isn’t much time.
I begin to walk around and around. It’s a tight circuit. On a level with the tree tops, I can hear the birds’ nervous twitter as they nestle in the trees, surely looking for cover before the storm. Or are they shouting a warning to me?
I am on a pilgrimage of sorts, here as I am adjacent to the church. Drops are starting to plop around me and I find that I am stutter stepping trying to avoid them. With a flash the sky releases a torrent of coolness. I stop trying to dodge the rain and instead am embraced by it.
I continue to rhythmically walk in the tight little circuit of the roof, the rain pounding around me, a ratatat counterpoint to my steps.
And then, just as quickly as it began, the storm ends. The clouds recoil and reshape themselves once again, the sun streams through the sky. I imagine that in a few steps I could break free and leap from cloud to cloud, bounding on high. From there I could see the grid of the world, the pathways and byways, the swaths of space, the connectedness of it all.
My three walks, each path moving from vulnerability to a sense of invincibility through movement alone, all smudge together as I move my feet ever forward.