Although it was gloomy and unpleasant yesterday at about five, I went for a walk anyway. I had been writing a page all afternoon. It came out well; I'd said what I wanted to say, and tried out a few things that felt different. But I'd been at it for hours. I still had plenty to do when it was finished, but the only thing I could imagine doing was taking a walk down to the river and back, which is what I did.
I haven't felt the need for exercise in a very long time. It's my brain that craves it. Hours of hard work, involving flashes of insight and stretches of fiddling around (Google maps again - I have to track down the setting of a novel, see if it's really there; it is), leaves my mind feeling gunked up. It's the static residue, I suspect, of countless firings at unhabituated neurons. Only a brisk walk will clear the noise away.
But for some time, now, I've felt too frazzled to allow myself to put on a jacket and take a hike. There has always seemed to be too much to do to permit the luxury of a pointless stroll. Now that Kathleen has finally made her move, the fog of frazzlement has lifted considerably, and I see that I can easily afford the forty-five minutes that my basic walk usually takes.
On a day like yesterday, the sidewalks grow emptier with every avenue, and on the stretch of 86th Street between York and East End there were only two of us - three if you count the other person's doorman, who came out to greet her and natter about the weather. Carl Schurz Park was not empty, but if it had been it might have seemed less desolate. Most of the snow had melted, but the landscape, in grey, brown, and the colorless hue of evergreens at this time of year, was not pretty.
And yet I could feel that it was all about to change. Not yesterday, not today, and not tomorrow. But soon. The promise of spring haunted the park benches and the puddles of runoff. No one was playing chess at any of the five tables to the east of the playground, but it wouldn't be long.
Almost everyone I encountered was attached to a dog. In the big dogs' run, a white-ish sort of sheep dog with black ears - it was a shapeless beast - chewed on a green plastic soda bottle while younger animals jumped over him as they chased each other around. There was one very spruce young dog - I'd never seen one like it, but its lean body put it somewhere between greyhound and Weimaraner - looked to be in the very first flush of adulthood, or perhaps not quite there. Meanwhile, the small dogs, in their tiled enclosure, made a gentle racket with their clicking nails.
At the end of the elevated walkway, standing over traffic that seemed to be much more congested heading downtown, I gazed at One East End Avenue. If I had all the money in the world, would I want to live there? With the highway running under my windows? If I had all the money in the world, I think I'd rather live in a fourth-floor apartment - in the treetops - at 120 East End. Or I might buy a house in Henderson Place. Scotch that: Kathleen asks few things of life, but twenty-four hour doorman service is one of them.
The walk back up 86th Street was vaguely narcotizing. I had no inclination to think about anything. I was ready to get back to work.
Copyright (c) 2007 Pourover Press