Loving Familiar Places

I walked around town in the mist and drizzle yesterday. It was one of my better walks in a long while, despite the weather. I felt strong and the lungs and heart were good, so I did almost five miles.

I always long to be outside. I started out yesterday going down towards the river, but then reversed my course and went down the sidewalk on Park Avenue. (It’s always better to walk with the wind at your back!) That old sidewalk along Park avenue is the same one which has been there all of my life. It is a bedrock of memories for me. I remember walking to school down that concrete path when I was as young as eight years old. I continued to walk that way until we moved in 1962 up to eigth street and then I walked from there to school. There was very little danger in a young kid walking to school back in 1958. We didn’t think a thing about it.

I also remember going that way on Saturdays down to the old theatre to sit all afternoon watching some Cowboy movie, or a rare Science fiction fare. Dad always told me to just stay on that path and not wander off, and I would be fine. I always was.

I remember going towards school that way one terrible morning when my Mom had her first nervous breakdown, and how she ran after me that day…scared that something was going to happen to her. So much sorrow yet to come, and as that day unfolded and I had not the least idea of how to handle what was taking place. I had no idea that I would soon be staying with my Grandparents for a few months while Mom was in the State hospital. How I wish we had the treatments available back then that we have today.

But I love the outdoors, in all places, but especially familiar places.

I remember my friend who lived on that street who passed away much too young. I remember that he wanted to be outside as he was dying. He sat in his front yard, bundled up in coats and blankets looking at the wonderful world around him. The sky and the clouds. The rain and the sun. I know he did not wish to leave it, and my heart broke for him.

If I had a choice, which I know that few of us do, I would choose to die outside under the full moon and a sky quilted with billions of stars, on warm summer’s night…..gazing up into the Universe beyond where we exist and wondering what lies ahead.

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