I took a walk earlier. It was a relatively long one, considering I was just going to visit a friend. I don’t know what I was thinking when I put on an extra hoody and my scarf before leaving, but I’m glad I did. It’s cold out there, but it was tolerable with a pretty brisk pace.
When you’re walking with purpose, it’s easy to forget to stop and see what’s around you, but as I approached the local park I found that a bunch of kids were still out in the floodlights playing what appeared to be the bastard child of basketball and football. I’m always wary of people who go outside on freezing cold nights to play sports, so I slowed down and thought about what I would do were they in the mood to pick a fight. I stared at the floor, barely glancing up through my then-windswept hair to see if they’d noticed me at all. They didn’t. I kept walking.
I came to cross the road. I dislike crossing seemingly-empty roads, mostly because when a road seems to be empty and you go to cross a car will almost definitely come round the corner and almost kill you. I’m usually wary about death by car, it doesn’t sound like a nice way to die: crushed by a few tonnes of metal. Just think of the poor drivers insurance premiums. True to the pattern, I stood at the curb and waited for a car to pass, and was distracted by a particularly bright light shining above the hedgerow separating the road from the cul-de-sac beyond. A star.
I don’t know why I was surprised. I hadn’t checked the weather for tonight (I rarely do unless I’m planning a camping trip) but I was certain it would be dull and misty as it was earlier. It wasn’t. It was perfectly clear, and consequently, cold. I checked once more for cars before crossing, heading through a small alley, around the bollards designed to stop people from riding their bikes through it. I kept walking.
I left the alley and kept walking down the quiet residential streets, occasionally glancing through someones living room window, wondering who lived there and what they were like, because besides it being a relatively small village, I knew next to no-one. It was nice imagining their lives, filling them with horrors I would hopefully never face. I’d much rather pity than be pitied. I kept walking.
I turned on to the penultimate street of my walk to his house, a street that 2 of my ex boyfriends had lived on. I took a habitual glance up at their window and smiled at the Star Wars figurines still there between the window and the curtain. They were 17 and 19 respectively now (I should mention they were brothers. A story for another time) but though I saw them around often enough, and they’d grown in to the kind of guys you wouldn’t mind having around at a party. I still thought of them as the skinny, bespectacled, big-eared kids they had been when I loved them. I hoped they hadn’t redecorated their shared room, though part of me knew they probably had, but Han and Darth were still there to defend their window from any attackers as long as they could put aside their differences. I kept walking.
At the start of the street I was headed to, I found a Silver Birch, a few lonely resolute leaves still desperately clinging to the tips of its branches, determined not to become victims of winter like their fallen brethren that were scattered across the pavement. They were spread out fully, the damp from the rain and mist sticking their surface to the tarmac, they stayed there bravely, sodden but still spread out waiting for the sun, hoping they might still photosynthesise. They might still be of use to someone or something. They were dead though. Long dead and cut from the life source they were trying to keep alive through the cold. I thought about all these things and bit back a grimace. I was a small leaf, cut from a silver birch and left to decompose on the ground, though I was certain I was still of some use to someone. I could still help. I couldn’t.
I kept walking.
November 22, 2011
A walk in the cold.