This damn pandemic is tough on an extrovert. All of my writing ideas have drifted away and I would give all the cookies in the cookie jar and my best Gaia necklace for inspiration.
What to do, I read, but that is someone else’s inspiration. I search the internet, and now know why serial killers make that career decision and have friends in foreign lands on Facebook. Out of desperation, and a sale on Masterclass, I signed up and sat with notepad in hand with David Sedaris. He suggested that we all walk. I thought he was silly, so I signed up for Dan Brown.
After hours of his instructions and his obvious enthusiasm about the class, he said we should all walk.
So here I am nine months later, I started at a half mile, and now I clock an average of 2.5 miles a day, some days more. After the third day, I started taking a grocery bag, and picking up the throw away debris that decorates my small town. Early in the adventure, I learned where the trash cans were located and I would dump and refill.
About two months into the picking, I asked my sister if I got extra points for the deep knee bends, and touching of toes. A day later her husband delivered a grabber. Penny was worried that I would catch a hundred diseases from the plastic cups and Modelo beer cans.
I set the MapMyWalk app, and head out almost every day. Out the back of the community, past the dumpsters and to 84th St. Policing both sides of the street, the first trash can is at the bus stop on State Avenue. Then State to the Marysville Cemetery, and a quick lap. I have made friends with Beth and Don who work there, and Opal, Ina, Verda and my great and great-great grandparents who rest there. I am convinced that someone rises up on the nights with no moon, and steals Reese’s’ Pieces for the others that aren’t bold enough to leave the cemetery.
As my journey expanded the first to speak to me was the owner of the Lucky 13 Biker Bar. He thanked me, and told me it was okay to use his dumpster. To this day, I take special care of his parking lot, and even went there for a celebratory drink and cheeseburger for my book release.
I have found a wealth of men’s underpants, shirts, jackets, and scarves in my wandering. I wash them and donate them, often leaving them at the bus stops where they are claimed. In the nine and a half months I have found some money, mostly change. I have been receiving honks and thank yous as the traffic passes by, as I’m being recognized. I started to wear my author tee-shirt. One man waved me over to his truck at the stop light on 88th, and gave me a Starbucks gift card. When it was icy, I bought a cat stroller for my cats, and better balance. I have become a fixture in town, the little old lady with the grabber, a cat stroller and bags of garbage.
I have realized that I do it just to have the possibility of a conversation. I walk the same way every day, and get from two to six bags of cast offs, and one day 223 cigarette butts. I’ve met a homeless sci-fi writer named Alex, I gained permission from the Catholic church to scour their meditation garden and cemetery. Only on the first day of that side trip was I swarmed by wasps and stung well over thirty times, I found it amazing that WASPs, and the alternative meaning of the letters. The office manager has come out and helped in their massive parking lot.
They always wave at Precision Tune Up on 92nd. I may be the only citizen of this town that knows why the pot shop closed. I roll through five different church parking lots, and today was the topper. As I crossed 92nd to get a cup and newspaper out of the church yard, a young man made a quick turn into the Precision parking lot. He came running across the street, against the light and called out to me. All he wanted to know was why. Why would a little old lady with a cat stroller pick up so much trash? I explained that I see the Pacific Northwest as a beautiful symphony, and when I see a crushed can or 7-11 cup, it is like a sour note, and I can’t ignore them when it can be perfect. His name was Quinn and he tried to give $20 as a thank you. I refused, he insisted, I refused and now I have $20. I went on to find 2 more nickels, a dime and two pennies.
$20.22 is that a sign? Two in numerology means partnerships — the coming together or balancing of people, concepts, or things. I decided to take this as a sign what the year 2022 will bring to us. Now to work for it. As of July 1, 2021 –
$45.93 the upholstery shop gave me money for lunch
901 bags of trash 6 pairs of undies and 2 dead birds, 1 squirrel and one dog
55,129 pages on the next book.