Because I skipped walking the day before, I loaded an unintentionally melancholy playlist on my phone instead of listening to TED or anything noteworthy. The hour was too early and my enthusiasm was too high but the darkness was beautiful. I walked the width of Springdale, down Emma, and a circuitous path toward nowhere in particular.
Someone I once knew too well called yesterday and told me that his days were now numbered and that he was tired of the pain and mediocre tenor of life. Like these things always do, it left a bruise on me that wasn’t readily apparent.
So, I left for a long walk this dark morning.
I found everything I wasn’t looking for.
I walked so far that I texted my wife to see if she was up. 30 minutes later, I tried Uber to discover that no one wanted to drive around Springdale at that hour. Another 30 passed and I decided that I would wait for Uber’s system to either get me a ride or kick me off the system. A driver pinged me in less than 5 seconds. My legs were numb at that point, so I leaned against the utility pole on the street and watched the sun come up above the skyline somewhere near the roofline of AQ Chicken.
As I sat in the back seat of the stranger’s car, I was surprised by how far I had walked, mile after mile. The raccoons had greeted me across from the Apollo Theater, and someone’s tiny tuxedo kitten ran and jumped on my side as I warmly rubbed it and whispered to it. I left him purring underneath the front bumper of his owner’s truck. A solitary worker moved in the darkened interior of Neal’s Cafe. Several empty storefronts looked out upon me as I traversed Emma.
In the distant geography beyond, I knew that the person who called me yesterday was awake and restless, shuffling through his memories and attempting to reconcile his time.
There are no easy answers and no direct path to peace. But, there is time enough to walk and to look out upon the unknowable expanse of people and places around us.