Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Interlude of a Walking Man

A TRANQUIL TUESDAY NIGHT. Cool air in the window, a nearly full moon over the town, a hot Internet connection, and a blank document. Very peaceful, all things considered.

My mom's surgery is scheduled for this coming Friday, but so far, I have been calm about it. So has she. After a couple of nights of racing heartbeats and panicked misgivings, she seems eager to get it done. I have drawn strength from her resolve, and I've only had one night of runaway thoughts in the weeks leading up to this date with the vascular surgeon.

I believe getting decent amounts of exercise has also helped. I took a walk up and down the hill near me earlier tonight, while sunlight was still warming the western sky. I've either been building a little muscle or losing a touch of weight. My strides up the incline felt stronger, even as I neared the top. I was still breathing fairly heavily, but my pace was quicker.

I've also managed to get out on the roads before work. So wonderfully peaceful. Even after Daylight Saving Time, it is still dark when I go out. I was amused to hear at least one radio alarm go off as I passed a house. Even more delicious, some stalwart had used their fireplace that previous evening, and the smoky scent was still emanating from their chimney. And from the summit of the hill, across the Pascack Valley and at the edge of the Palisades, festooned with blinking red aviation lights, I could see the Alpine radio tower, the world's first FM radio transmitter and the brainchild of the martyred FM pioneer Major Edwin Howard Armstrong. Seeing this tower, all 400 feet of it, from points far and wide across Bergen and Rockland Counties reminds me of just how vast this county is . . . and this isn't even the largest county in the state.

I walk a small section of this huge wedge of New Jersey real estate, pacing along beneath a sky of stars so close it feels like I could be sucked into space with one misstep. My legs work like autonomic body processes, like heartbeats or blinks, as the next section of horizon nears, passes beneath my feet, and then re-establishes itself in the distance. Time drops from millennia to footsteps, to strides, long or short, steep and halting or sure along flat roads, and I measure my own days, weeks, and years. I adhere to a different calendar and circumscribe a suddenly huge world, pedestrian in the most literal and finest sense.

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