Somewhere, out there

February 11, 2009

Today, when I should have been working, I went out walking. It comes from working by a window and from a day that you know, just by looking at it, you can either surrender to or regret its passing by without you. I’ve never liked regrets. Once I had left the work behind and felt the day around me, I knew what had been at stake. Sunday was mild, but the breeze flicked enough of a chill at you to remind you of the season. In the breeze today, the chill was gone. The breeze today wrapped warm arms around you, and you could either fall for it – the course I chose – or suspect it as a trick to put you off your guard. There were at least a half dozen crocuses at the foot of an elm tree that chose the same course as I did. 

This was no day for that first-aid kit of an exercise room. I walked outside, nearly a mile along my usual route on a busy street, but then I turned into a road I had never explored. There was a very large house with a wraparound porch and a mansard roof, and an outbuilding big enough to be a small house itself – also with a mansard roof. Across the way was a ballfield – 315 feet down both foul lines – just relaxing, greening, and waiting for what won’t be long in coming. A person could sit on the porch of that house with the mansard roof and watch the ritual play itself out, across the way there,  in the gloaming of many summer days.

I thought, as I imagined myself on the porch I was seeing for the first time – a porch about a mile from my own front door – that we often live as though we were on a stage set, traveling the same routes every day, not looking beyond the familiar scenery, although most of the world lies beyond. 

There was an e-mail on my Blackberry from my friend Ed, who had warned me that the e-mail would say it had come from George. Ed’s first name is George. I didn’t know that until today, standing by the ballfield and the house that was also new to me. I have known Ed for more than 30 years, but today he told me that he has always been called by his middle name to avoid confusion with another George in the family – his namesake. That’s a funny outcome, I thought, inasmuch as he was christened to honor the earlier George but cannot use the name. My middle name is Dominick – to honor my paternal grandfather – but almost nobody knows it.

I turned home, keeping up a pace that I thought would satisfy a 3.5 setting on the treadmill, and I arrived to find the undone work frowning at me, unimpressed that my shoulders were damp with sweat. I’m finishing the work now, regretting nothing.


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