She didn’t really know which direction to walk. Just had to walk. Clouds covered only a piece of the sun, burning on her left shoulder. She wanted her sweater, not just to shield the sun, but to cover, swaddle, pull together the uncontrollable thoughts making her head dizzy. Walk forward, no matter where that led her, she couldn’t even remember what direction would get her home. Just keep walking, figure it out later.
And she was not dressed for this pilgrimage of nowhere. Her heel caught the edge of an uneven sidewalk, reminding her she had a time limit for how long her feet would cooperate with no blisters. Embarrassed, she looked down at the once glossy brown patent leather toe. A dirty streak of asphalt was almost enough to make her sit down on the curb and give in to the suppressed sobs. She was even more embarrassed, remembering all of the people in cars waiting, staring, watching, mocking, this silly show she was trapped in. Quickening her steps, dropping her head, so they couldn’t see her swollen red eyes, walking forward.
There was a point in her life when she thought she had done everything right. That she found the answers clearly others couldn’t see. From the outside, she knew her life looked no different than before. But she was deeply aware, today. It didn’t work. The life, the right, the path that they all wanted her to take, the road that she willingly chose early and later. It didn’t work. Nothing could last. Nothing will stay. Good or bad. It didn’t stay. She wouldn’t stay. And it never quite worked out.
She followed the unkept edge of the sidewalk counting green blades of grass amongst the dry dead straw. Stepping over concrete cracks hosting fresh rebellious grass, she thought it strange. The grass growing, thriving exactly where it shouldn’t be found. And the proper wide open soil, was really a barren desert patch of grass that once was. Thats how it seems to go. The life and inspiration and beauty, slowly dies. She used to believe it was just hiding, maybe resting for a season, preparing to come back strong along the line. But really, it’s dead there. And maybe life needs to grow somewhere else.
The clouds were inching over the burning rays of late morning sun. It was a relief, to trade the scratchy sun beams for a cool wisp of light gray air instead. The little breath of wind lifted the sweat soaked blouse off her breasts. She didn’t even realize how fevered she had become. Tromping across the city, exposed and annoyed, working up to a cardio workout pace. Her heel began to ache, taking stock of the time and distance of which she had become oblivious. Turning left, just because.
Quiet, strangely. The cars had stopped thundering past her, at least on this street. The curious people had stayed on the road more travelled, the one she had purposely walked away from. Silent air, was heavier. She was not on display, but she was not hidden by the lights activity and noise, anymore. Scanning for another soul, she only saw a crooked pothole in the middle of the street. Broken pieces that no one would pick up, today, even tomorrow probably. A random car would not see this little cracked dip in the road, not even see that its heavy tire would surely add to injury, never look back to watch the lonely pothole grow deeper. But it couldn’t move, stuck on the street. Dear friend, dirty pothole, at least I can still walk away.
She didn’t know how long she had been walking. As her clenched chest relaxed, as the inhale found its way back to the bottom of her lung, she felt her fingers once again. And her bladder. Where would she pee, if it got to that point. What would she eat, if she wandered late enough. Where would she sleep, uncovered and unprepared. What would she drink, they say that lack of water will kill you first. A bench, in the shade. That would be a nice relief. Where could she find that bench?
Her frantic walk had slowed. She could see the road in front of her a little more clearly. Streets and sidewalks and grass medians. A blue bicycle chained to a peeling lamp post. Apartments stamped along the periphery, standing at disinterested attention. Still no people, at least right now. That was a relief. But there was no bench either.
A quick look around, once more. Still no one. And that’s when it all came out. A deep orgasmic release of tears, and gasps, and convulsions, and involuntary squeals. Stopped walking. Shaking. Couldn’t. Breathe.
Bawling alone in the center of a nowhere sidewalk.
Stupid girl. Pride, embarrassment, anger at her own weakness, despair for the next step. She wiped the snot from her raw upper lip. And began walking once again.
Now, of course, that’s when they started to appear. Out of nowhere, a falsely pleasant woman waddling uncomfortably fast at the end of a tiny spastic dog’s leash. Focused runner staring straight ahead, listening to the music of another world conjured by the parasitic air pods fixed into his brain. Gossip geese fluttering their lips as fast as their spandex hips, shooting eyes of pathetic disgust in every general direction. All of a sudden, the ghosts of judgement materialized. And these were exactly whom she wanted to avoid.
But her eyes stayed forward. For no reason at all, except that they were forward. And she was moving. forward. Tried not to think about what she looked like to them. Curious, but didn’t want to see where their eyes happened to travel. Why should she care. About what they thought of an overdressed sweaty woman, unsuccessfully hiding mascara streaks and a beaten soul. They didn’t know. And realistically, they didn’t care.
This was her journey, days on the unknown road. A pendulum swing between devastation and dignity. Neither of which she was ever confident. None of which she could be content. And so when the others spoke about happiness, she was immediately suspicious. It could be, she was just that unlucky. That each opportunity for satisfaction played out to be disappointment. It could be, they were just lying. That any boast of fulfillment was really a smoke screen to filter the reality.
And what would you say. To the girl on the unknown road. Would you tell her to examine her heart? That has surely been blackened and broken. Would you tell her to suck up her tears? And lie to the other fakers for their own sake. Or would you dare to tell her she’s right. And this is all wrong. And there is a resting place, prepared by another, undeserved, just for her.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John: 14:1-6)
And what would you say. How can she know the way?