this is an allegory

your mother bought you this pair of shoes when you were young. they didn't seem to fit, but she told you they fit and looked pretty on you and she bought them just for you.

sometimes they catch on things and you trip; your mother scolds you for ripping your pants. you always have blisters.

later, she buys you another pair because you outgrew those. they don't feel any better but you have been told that they fit and look pretty on you. they were bought just for you.

when you are old enough to buy your own shoes, you try on the size you learned to wear. they make hot spots immediately, but you know that is just how shoes feel.

but one day, you are in a shoe store where the shoe person takes the time to measure your feet and present to you something that doesn't rub on your blisters or leave a big gap around your toes. you stand up and take some steps, disbelieving that you could walk without pain.

you learn your new shoe size, and realize that you can try on any kind of shoe you want because there are no rules forbidding it. you learn to run, hike, climb in specialty shoes that you previously never conceived of trying out. sometimes, you enjoy walking around barefoot, airing out your feet that are no longer raw and cramped.

when you visit your mother, she presents to you shoes she got on sale to give to you as a gift. you tell her they're not the right size. she is confused and hurt, because she has bought you shoes for years, how could they not fit?

instead of wedging your feet into that old painful shape again, you don't, because you know that your feet have to support you through so many adventures and you can't go back to hurting them again.

you thank your mother for thinking of you and buying you shoes, but you also say that you prefer to shop for shoes yourself now.

and the memory of all the times you tripped over your own feet, wincing at the blisters, is how you know who you are.

30 October 2019 16:46

and the miles keep sliding by

i am an arrow shot into the space between the earth and the sky.

words pass me in a blur. taken out of context, they stand surreal: a billboard for "BUTT DRUGS", a van reading "NO CRACKS ALLOWED", a bait and tackle shop called "HAPPY HOOKERS". at times i have to blink away the sand that whirls through the air and sneaks under my helmet, and the words rapidly fade from memory. i recite them in my head to keep them fixed.

riding on the interstate is a high-stakes game of sokoban. cars respond to my gentle pressure; i evaluate every single one of them and decide which ones i would rather ride near, slowly reshuffling the ordering by nudging people up and down the line. by the time i've arranged those rectangles to my liking, some of them have peeled off and others have arrived, and i have to start over. it keeps me from getting bored.

my drawl comes back so fast when i dip a few hundred miles south. my vowels round out as i push west. i didn't think i had an accent until i heard it coming out of my mouth. when i cross the line into the state that contains my childhood, i instantly burst into tears, and then stop just as quickly as my sight rapidly blurs over.

a large orange blur pierces the left side of my vision as i lean into the exit ramp. a car slams on its brakes too late; a young doe cartwheels through the air in several pieces, trailed by glass and plastic. we all stop to look. some of us move on, seeing that others are taking care of each other.

i glance at near-empty motel lots and apply judgement granted to me from a lifetime of watching movies with scenes that happen in near-empty motel lots. the doorbell next to the office summons first the anxious terrier, and then the lady in a terrycloth bathrobe. i wonder if i interrupted her from putting curlers in her hair. she trades me a room key on a large plastic paddle for my successful completion of a registration card, and cannot accept money from me until she opens the restaurant in the morning.

the next day, when i am hundreds of miles away, i realize i left an item behind. she agrees to mail it to me, along with a handwritten post-it requesting seven dollars and forty-nine cents in return.

a cloud of mosquitoes descend as i struggle to turn around on a small gravel road. the tires slip under me; i know that if i lose my grip here, no one will help me.

the sky collapses rapidly around me, folding over the road and curling tightly around my body. each passing truck sends a wave overhead, like diving blindly through the sprinklers as a kid. ahead, a high bridge vanishes into grey, spanning across mud. sand piles on either side. a cloud machine looms on the horizon. the creek laps at the shoulders. a fawn stumbles blearily out of the weeds.

the weather clears, and the road unrolls before me like the slow-motion breath of the planet. i try to breathe in sync, but soon have to pant to recover.

i am an arrow shot into the space between the earth and the sky, and i still know how to come home.

04 July 2019 22:47

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