Nine : A Long Walk

Yesterday I walked roughly twenty four miles. From Harold st. to 52nd, down to Foster, connecting at Powell, on to 50th, over Mt. Scott, past Hawthorne, over Mt. Tabor, and on and through a tangled web of side streets residential neighborhoods until I reached 42nd and Going, Delphinas Bakery, work, 7.2 miles from home. But I didn’t stop there, feeling the bruises and blisters finally forming on the bottoms of my feet and toes, I pressed on, down 42nd to Killingsworth which deposited me onto Interstate. From Interstate to Lombard, west west west to the mouse trap and down to Terry st, where a friend was having guests for dinner. It was fantastic. Perfect chicken, a potato dish that reminded me of au gratin, and green beans sauteed with bacon. We drank, ate, and talked about work, and life, and the love of my life, speculating why she left so suddenly.

Secretly, I feel as if they all know… Like I’m the odd man out.

I left my house at 11.45am and arrived at just after 3.30pm. I stayed until about 8.30pm, the sun already sleeping behind the cascade mountains in the distance, when I decided to change out my hoodie for my fairly water proof jacket, throw on my pack, and hike back home the same route I had taken.

It wasn’t until I reached Killingsworth that the evening got truly interesting. I had been walking again for almost an hour when I heard foot steps running up behind me. I stopped, turned, and saw a girl running toward me. She wore leggings, a black skirt, a longsleeve black shirt with a red and black plaid shirt over the top, and her hair fell naturally around her head. She was pretty. As she neared me, her pace slowed and I could see her heavy breathing. She told me to walk slower next time. I laughed, nervously.

She stood upright and looped her arm through the space between my arm, my hands stuffed into my sweatshirt pockets, and my side and pulled me along with her.

Before she had caught up to me, I was having a panic attack, stopping every three blocks to try to cough up, puke out, or drown out the lump in my throat.

She told me to slow down as my normal pace began again and it became my turn to do the pulling. She asked about my life, what a cute boy was doing walking all alone. She insisted I must have a girlfriend, and when I denied it, she asked what had happened. I explained it slowly (a story for later), and then heard about her life, though by this point I was certain that she was strung out. She was an on again, off again heroin “user” who was homeless as of a week now. She had left her boyfriend and children for fear of her life, she told me, as he was becoming more and more physically abusive to her. She told me my life story, I told her hers. We were right on the money. It was a surreal experience. I could imagine this girl, clean. I could see me actually liking her, if life had handed us completely different paths. I had clarity.

She offered me the best sex of my life for a place to rest her head for the night.

I apologized, though she had been walking with me for almost six miles, I still had eight more miles to go – otherwise there would be a soft bed, alone, a hot shower, and a meal. I knew she wouldn’t walk that far, she said she would go to the mall and try to meet up with a friend after they got off work.

She stopped me at a street corner, where we smoked a cigarette and talked gently about nothing. When the cancerous fires we inhaled died, she turned to me, pulled me in close and hugged me, thanking me for the walk, and she wished it could have been different that we met. She turned at the corner and walked away, waving goodbye.

I realized that my panic attack had stopped the moment she ran up to me.

And also…

I could have loved her.


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