Thursday, Mar. 20, 2003, 10:08 AM

Walking around



The day was long and warm as I sat working behind large windows in my office. The sun arced across the sky and wispy clouds swam through the air. I thought only of escape. But it would not come until the sun was half submerged behind the nearest hill and the sky burned bright orange, faded to pink and purple, and at last succumbed to night creeping in from the East.

I decided that since I had missed the wonderful day that I should venture out into the night. With the sun retired for the day a chill descended that forced me to don a jacket for my late night jaunt. I stood in front of my apartment contemplating the grid of city streets trying to determine a destination. Before I had decided my feet were already carrying me in one direction. A right, a left, and three blocks up to the playground. It is the kind of playground where old tires are ground like coffee and reconstituted into square blocks that are used to pave the area around the structures. They are very bouncy, ground tires are. I bounced up and down until I was dizzy and then traversed the monkey bars on rung at a time, then two, then three, and finally four, hanging from one arm and swinging my body like an orangutan in order to reach that far. I hung upside down and watched the change from my pockets bounce on the rubber ground. I assaulted the swings and forced them into action, closing my eyes and imagining myself to be hundreds of miles above the ground.

And then my feet carried me forward again. A right, a left, three long blocks and a right into the book store. I went upstairs and searched for a particular book to no avail. I asked at the information desk to no avail. I talked to a very pretty young woman working at the café in the bookstore only to discover that she had previously dated my youngest brother. I decided that I should leave before I found other books with interesting titles and purchased them.

And then the feet started again. Out the front door, left two blocks to the corner then right. As I crossed the street I performed a cartwheel and then a round-off much to the bemusement of the local street urchins and rabble that inhabit the streets after dark. A series of whoops and claps and one call of encore prompted me to bow to the group before continuing.

And the feet carried me forward for another block when I happened upon one of my favorite trees. It is a towering oak tree with a trunk so big that three of me could not wrap our arms round the base. This tree was planted long ago in the two foot space of grass that existed between the concrete sidewalk and the road. It has since consumed all of the space between and has sent its roots out laterally along the narrow strip of grass. The effect is one of an upwelling of roots a full foot high extending several feet on either side of the trunk. I think what a long time this tree has grown here. And when I look up I notice that the telephone and cable wires that had been strung above this spot have now become engrossed in the living flesh of the tree. So I say to the tree that he is very old has demonstrated incredible adaptation and has suffered much stifling in his pursuits. And I hugged the tree and confirmed that it would indeed require no less than three of me to provide a proper hug.

And the feet continued on along the road, across another then left, then two blocks to the corner where I notice the chalk drawings of children on the sidewalk. A dinosaur is easily deciphered, but the next one looks like a winged horse or an aardvark with large ears. Yellow and pink lines crisscrossing the cement complete with the names of the authors who proclaimed themselves to be Ashley and Robert.

The feet continue across the street, then right, then left and a half a block then right to the door of my apartment. But before I enter I look up to see the moon waxing towards full, only a few days away, bathing the world with a blue-white light, reminding me of the sun now warming the other side of the world.