Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 2: You Got To Move

Belmont to Grand Rapids. 10 miles/20.1 total

I was right. Today I felt the pain. Mostly in the ankles and the bottoms of the feet. I think it's just a matter of building up callouses on the pads of my feet, however long that takes. The bike ride was fine--ten miles isn't bad and doesn't consume much energy. But after about three miles of walking, I feel like I did at the end of yesterday. Can't wait to see how tomorrow's going to feel.

The mood of the walk is set on the iPod on the bike ride. The Rolling Stones doing "You Got to Move," not their original version from Sticky Fingers in 1971, but the one from Love You Live, in '77, with Billy Preston on piano. There's a point where you think the song is over, then the piano starts again, and they do one more chorus. That kind of what's been going on in my mind throughout the day. I feel like I am just about done for, wanting to sit down, then once more it's, nope, you gotta move.

The walk starts out in the bucolic suburbs and ends in the city. Late summer with the grasshoppers singing and jumping all over the place, the goldenrod in full bloom, the leaves of the maples starting to turn, making me think of lines from Shakespeare and Wordsworth. Then I turn on to Alpine Avenue and head down into the city. Alpine, for those of you not familiar with the greater Grand Rapids area, is one of those fat commercial thoroughfares containing every big box store, fast food joint, restaurant chain, and gas station brand there is. Streets we absolutely need, but love to hate. So the mood changes dramatically, and the traffic gets fast and loud and incessant.

I enjoy the change of pace. Not much road kill, to be sure. Just a lonely possum and something flat with claws that I can't identify. I think I see several large black snakes, but they turn out to be broken fan belts, which I guess is what passes for road kill in the city. And lots of other fascinating urban junk--shards of plastic, pieces of hubcaps, miscellaneous car parts, a half dozen smashed watermelons, a fork in the road (literally--a stainless steel fork bent over double and run over about a hundred times), a child's smashed wristwatch, a big shiny slug that I though might be a half dollar until I got closer. Stuff that sometimes makes me stand there and try to think of what transpired to put those things at those spots.

But by far the major find of the day is a beat up Polaroid photo of a man in a casket. He looks to be in his twenties or thirties. Deep ebony skin against the white satin, wearing a grey suit with a burgundy windowpane plaid pattern and a maroon tie. On his chest is a single long-stemmed red rose, and behind him, leaning against the coffin lid, a small floral arrangement on a heart-shaped satin pillow. From the hole near the top of the picture, it looks to have been tacked somewhere, perhaps for quite some time. I read recently that there's a publication called Found Magazine, which collects and publishes things, such as love letters, lists, poetry, doodles, and photos--things that give glimpses into unknown lives. Check out their website at I think this might be my first submission.

Not much in the way of empty cans, either. I think there are already a number of folks plying Alpine in search of a little extra cash. I pass one guy who had his own plastic bag full of empties, and looks rather askance at me. As I get down into the city, though, I start to feel like I really belong. Older guy walking down the sidewalk with a bag of cans, pockets bulging with stuff, grey hair sticking out from his ball cap, limping a little. Just another old dude on the street without a car.

1 comment:

Billie Bob said...

Hey...just wanted you to know I'm paying attention. I hope today (Thursday) went as well as the first two.