521 Place

There was something interesting about this afternoon’s weather. It was cooler than expected with a strong breeze at times. The sky was overcast, adding the perfect touch of faux-Autumn to the mix. My feet felt so light that I was almost detached from them. As I’ve walked more and more, there are days when I’m certain I could walk until nothing except bloody stumps remained. It would not have surprised me to turn and discover a band behind me, merrily playing a tune as I walked. Having said that, it might become a little annoying after a while, though. The band – not the bloody stumps for feet.

I walked along a few roads I hadn’t walked in 20 years, back in another life when I lived in that area of Springdale, in a place I called “521” in my head, in Spanish, for reasons I’ve long forgotten. 521 was the house number but beyond that, I can’t recall the weird reason I recited it in my head like a mantra. In those days, I ran and walked them so much that I knew the average number of steps each required to traverse and the potholes which deceptively hid from view at any speed. To see the disrepair that my former residence is now in was a harsh sight. The best days for that place are long gone, forever. Prosperity was only a brief visitor to that little area and its address was stricken from the record for any future return. Springdale has a lot of surprises up its sleeves but absent a massive gentrification or conversion to public property, these places people still call home will only lean in and fall inward as time marches on. I realize that the way I’m describing it reflects a lot about my privilege in life, but I’m not sure that I can express the declining feeling of these places without an honest expression from my own viewpoint.

I walked under one of the trail’s railroad crossings, being lucky enough to be deafened by the train’s horn blast and the timing of it passing over me as I stopped to feel the vibration building and passing above me. Passing under the overhead rails before stopping, I imagined (as I always do) that the train was going to slowly roll over and derail above me, much in the same way I sometimes stare at the approaching apex of a large bridge I’m driving over and wonder if the road will still be there on the other side. There’s a fancy French phrase to describe looking into the void, “L’appel du vide,” that describes the small urge to jump into the canyon below and even though it’s not an exact fit, it’s similar to the what I’m describing.

At the other end of the lesser-used end of the trail, I stopped to watch a plane thunder off the runway at the airport. It was easy to imagine the pilot peering down on me and the places surrounding me, wondering why I paused to watch him or her as they escaped the clutches of the ground.

At the other end of the lesser-used end of the trail, I stopped to watch a plane thunder off the runway at the airport. It was easy to imagine the pilot peering down on me and the places surrounding me, wondering why I paused to watch him or her as they escaped. Ever since the early 90s when the plane fell out of the sky on me, I have appreciated the tendency of planes to not always stay up there. Turning back to my walk, I marveled at the sheer quantity of empty and colorful beer cans along the wooded and grassy side of the trail. It reminded that people use the trail for different things; for some, it is an access to nature, simply by slithering through breaks in the deteriorated wooden fencing. It was easy to picture the various places in the brush where adolescents could make bad life choices.

I listened to a sociology talk today, in Spanish, one detailing the complexities of those who dare to be themselves, no more and no less. I’m going to paraphrase here. The speaker said several uninteresting things and without warning, said something along the lines of, “It’s part of the loss of religion. Instead of the focus on the power of the mystery and our quest for love, it instead has so often morphed into a litany of certainty, of being right. Of lists of creeds, of fingers pointed toward the things which are wrong. But mostly of being right and of creating boundary spaces between ourselves and others. As individuals, we do the same thing with our own identities.”

Not bad for a slow Tuesday afternoon.

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