I was angry when I left work yesterday. It doesn't matter why, I just was. (To paraphrase a cinematic classic, it's taken me months of therapy just to admit that I get angry.) I didn't have the words or the wherewithal to fix it, though, so I didn't know what to do other than stomp around and seethe, like I'd heard angry people were supposed to (I'm still new at this). But then as I was pulling up to the house, I saw my other therapist parked at the curb in his big brown truck. What can brown do for me? Apparently, deliver my Zappos.com order three days earlier than expected. And just exactly in time.
I'd been at the shiny new Target the day before and took the bike I'd been ogling for a test-sit. I then spent a chunk of the afternoon brooding that I couldn't afford it and lamenting my almost-post-breastfeeding shape-shifting. For the first time in my recorded history, I had an urge to exercise, but I didn't have the means to do it. Just put on your sneakers and go walk, you say? Good thinking, but I didn't have those either. (Not unless you counted the $14.99 Rocket Dog quasi-tennies I got at Delia's five years ago, which, having tried to walk middling distances in them, I didn't.) So, with the giddy thrill of online shopping tempered by the begrudging acceptance of financial responsibility, I ordered a sale-priced pair of Sauconys, the first athletic shoes to enter my wardrobe since the girls' size-5 Nikes I bought when I worked in the Children's Shoes department of Dayton's. (The Minnesotans get this time reference, but for everyone else, that's 1995.) (Sidenote to any women whose feet are smaller than an 8: you can fit into the top sizes of "girls'" shoes, and they're a lot cheaper.)
Anyway, back to present-day Memphis … or yesterday Memphis. It was gorgeous. Sunny and breezy and warm and lovely. And I was none of those things. I'd felt sick the night before - a fun new sick, different than the previous few days, that kept me up and in pain instead of asleep, totally wasting Mr. Baby's wonderful 12-straight-hours unconscious - and had seriously considered staying home from work when I was still woozy and sweaty in the morning. But I went anyway, and every aggravation of the day weighed even heavier when bounced against my constant mental refrain: "I'm not even supposed to be here today."
So fast forward, or rewind, back to the beginning there. I got home and I was pissy. But then I saw the UPS truck and knew that my shoes had magically arrived at the moment I needed them most. I put them on immediately, confirmed that they weren't drawing blood when I took a step, and out I went.
The evening was stunning. Perfect light, perfect temperature. I set off walking with no idea of where I was headed, just the solitary goal of moving until I felt better. I didn't know how much road that might take. I didn't know how much road I could take. I crested the first hill and noted how I'd barely registered the incline. When I had biked the same street days before, I was sucking wind before I got to the top. The lightness of my lungs was validating. My bike muscles may be puny, but my legs are made to walk fast and far.
I kept walking. The shoes felt great. Who knew that properly designed footwear could make such a difference? My feet looked ridiculously large in them, but no matter. The neighborhood is still new to me, so I took a turn down the only side-street I was familiar with. The yards and sidewalks were buzzing with other people out enjoying the weather. I tried to be polite and neighborly when I passed. But I was still angry.
I got to the end of my known territory and I kept going. I didn't know how far I'd gone or how long I'd been walking, but the rabid lemur was still clawing in my chest, so I just kept walking.
I was heading toward the main thoroughfare that would eventually lead me home when I saw a small wrought-iron sign with an enchanting neighborhood name. I wish I could say what it was without telling the whole Interweb where I walk alone in the evenings, or could make up something equally appealing, but just believe me when I say it was the antithesis of all the contemporary pseudo-pastoral subdivision names like "Pheasant Ridge." I had no choice but to turn and walk through it.
As I passed by the green yards and low-slung 1950s homes, my pace stayed brisk but my mind slowed down. I started observing my bucolic surroundings instead of kicking more dust at the tornado in my head. I began mentally narrating the scenery. I breathed. By the time I was noting the similarity between this little corner of my world and the small town where my parents grew up, I realized the anger was quiet. I tried to stir it back up, just to see, but I couldn't. No matter how I poked at it, it just laid there looking silly.
This change occurred at almost the precise moment I hit the home-stretch. I walked by a brand-new development, its street name an uninspiring combination of the two adjacent streets, showing a lack of imagination carefully reproduced by the architecture inside. I made that joke up right then. It made me feel even better. I walked up my driveway and thought, if I'd had the time, I could do that whole loop all over again. I felt strong and healthy and clear. The anger was gone. I'd walked it off.
Epilogue: I Google-mapped it this morning, and apparently I accidentally designed a walking route that is exactly two miles long.
Post-Script: Bonus points for catching the two movie references, and super-double-points for getting the poetry homage.