Walking and Seeing the World Up Close

Green leaves

By Wael Abdelgawad | WaelAbdelgawad.com

I locked myself out of the car this morning at the gym. I might have taken the bus home to fetch my spare key, but I locked my wallet in the car as well and had not a penny on me. So I began to walk home. The gym is five miles from my house.

I drive this route often, but when you walk, you see things that you never would from the insulated bubble of a car cruising at 40 miles per hour.

Canada goose chicksThe geese in the flood control district at Nees and Fresno have chicks. They were brown on top and yellow underneath, and as sweetly fuzzy as a baby’s dreams. They scurried away, waddling toward the safety of water.

I found a boulder in the shade of a tree and sat to rest. I found shortcuts I didn’t know existed. I found homeless encampments hidden behind trees and in the isolated corners of parking lots. There was an old food container with a line of ants marching into it, and beside it a discarded cardboard sign: Anything helps. God bless you.

I used a discarded package from a camping ax to shade my face from the sun. I wondered who had purchased the ax, and if they were using it right now, somewhere up in the mountains. Is it possible that my own discards are being used by someone far away?

Someone called, “behind you.” I stepped aside and a young woman with mahogany skin and black hair passed me on a child’s bicycle, riding slowly. I realized she was the same woman I’d given a coat, hat and gloves to a month ago, when I saw her shivering on the sidewalk in a light rain. As she passed me, I noticed the cracked dryness of the skin on the backs of her legs, and a network of small scars around her ankles.

I’m getting ready to publish an urban fantasy novel called The Repeaters, and I’m in the planning stages for book two in the series. As I walked I brainstormed out loud, talking to myself, not caring who might notice. By the time I arrived home I’d figured out the reasons for the war between two races of spirits.

There’s a reality to this world, a depth and profundity that you cannot experience from a car. You have to get out in the world and walk through it. You have to look around and contemplate the meaning of what you see. Is there a an existence behind this existence, before it, after it? Whatever you think about that, if you really look at this one, it’s enough to puzzle over and to be both grateful and sorry for.

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