Just Now

Go. Out. Side.graffiti.3.2013

Waking up late today after a very full yesterday added to daylight savings time stealing an hour, I did my morning ritual in the afternoon — writing, drinking tea and checking in with the world online.

My intuition kept nudging me: Get in the sunshine.  Make that the priority.

Okay, okay.

No work.  No writing.  Take a break.

The feelings felt good, and I knew it was the right thing to do, so I went to walk the path from the Dekalb Tennis Center across the tracks, by the ruins of the old Dekalb Water Works, then onto the boardwalk by the stream over to Medlock Park where the little leaguers play.

Immediately, I tried to phone my sister-in-law and check in.  Got an answering machine.  The same with a friend and my dad.  I left multiple messages and pocketed the phone.  I relaxed into it.  Even alone, there were interactions between me and others, me and children, me and dogs.  Instead of talking on the phone to someone 60 or 1500 miles away, I was interacting and sharing face to face, often with only expressions and body language.

Both coming and going, I passed two girlfriends chatting about one’s new lover and how to navigate the relationship.  This contrasted with another woman on the phone who at first had turned away from the boardwalk for privacy, then when I saw her again, she had her curved hand on her forehead and was staring blankly.  I playfully thought she might be receiving a psychic message.  As I got closer, I saw she was just trying to read her smartphone screen in the mottled sunshine.  Again, I passed her without seeing her eyes.

That could have been me, I thought.

Back at the water works, structures graffiti artists use as a canvas, constantly spraying over each other’s work, I snapped some pictures on my smartphone and talked to a man as he watched his son.  He offered that he wasn’t thrilled with the ‘vandalism,’ mentioned even threatening to call the cops on a young adult with multiple spray cans and a respirator who was going for it one afternoon.

I offered my opinion:  I honestly look forward to seeing what they’ve done.  It’s like a free art gallery on my walk.  They respectfully don’t stray onto other surfaces, just sticking with these.

He looked at me and listened.

Besides, I continued, on my way in there were lots of moms and pops with kids, all talking about it, pointing at different parts, interacting with the art and one another.  Many of these people may never set foot in a museum, so that interaction may prove priceless to one of those kids.  And the artist had fun, too.  Mostly, though, the art encouraged folks to share.  So, really, what’s the harm?

Plus it got this stranger and I talking about our neighborhood.  We continued to chat, to question, to share and be heard.  Then we shook hands, smiled thanking one another, and moved on.

For all the messages I left on smartphones around the country, there were no return calls.  Great, I thought, what a beautiful afternoon to be outside.

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