As it stands now, my daily power walk is a highlight, a diversion, a chance to connect, albeit at a distance, with the outside world.
Even as insular a space as my suburban community is touched by the coronavirus tragedy. Each day I pass the nursing home where 49 lives were lost. Why that place? Why those poor souls?
But I press on, aware of the traffic, although minimal. Every time I walk, I see how driving or riding by in an automobile is like passing through in a glass and metal cocoon. Our vehicles shelter us, as if they were an extension of our houses. We listen to our music, perhaps have our religious statuary or icons on the dashboard or dangling from the rear view mirror. We all consider this personalization perfectly normal. In a time where the uniformity of the vehicles is pervasive, this personalization is almost an imperative. But 65 years ago, your vehicle was unique enough in itself. A Chevy Bel Air was markedly different from a Ford Fairlane. These days a black SUV is a black SUV.
Awareness of my surroundings, such as the uneven grass on the side of the road, keeps me safe. The pedestrian and the cyclist quickly learn they are intruders in Car Universe. We are the aliens, not the ones rolling by in their pods.
And I walk on. I see a turtle on a sand bar in the creek. I notice the trash, the discarded brush, the plastic bags. Today, I noticed an empty cigarette pack, Newport 100’s, with a few unsmoked fags (slang term for cigarette from The Great War)*.
I speak to my fellow walkers as we pass each other by. I smile at the children, riding their bikes with their Mom or Dad following. I hear the barking dogs like the black poodle sequestered by the electronic fence. Sometimes the serenity is disturbed by the music resounding from a car, the thudding bass announcing its passing as if it were clarion trumpets of a Roman Legion.
Just as easily I could be and am the man in the pod, not the indigenous person trudging along the road. These are our cities today, where humans doing human things, only interfere with the city plans of the city planners.
* “Strike up a lucifer (match) to light your fag, smile boys that’s the style.” Those lyrics are from the song Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag. I’m hoping it’s in the Public Domain by now