Tonight I walked through the neighborhood. I wanted to walk at dusk and be anonymous in the dark, listen to my iPod, volume turned up loud, in my own little world. It is the culture of the gym to which I belong: we leave each other alone to do our workouts, especially if we are wearing headphones. Everyone has an unspoken understanding that we each want to unwind in our own way, on our own time, listening to our own music.
In the neighborhood, though, sometimes one has to practice the art of avoidance. I was cold when I got home from work and forced myself to go walk, knowing I would feel worse (and lazy-er) if I did not. I pulled on some workout pants, then my black jacket liner, a black BMW jacket, and my black knit BMW hat. I even pulled the hood of the windbreaker over my head so anyone around could barely see my face. All that black might have had dire consequences if I had not also worn my neon yellow reflective safety vest. I walked quickly, but did not manage to avoid some of the neighbors. As I swerved to the other side of the road, I noticed the look I got from one couple. It was not very friendly. Maybe they thought I looked sort of grim reaper-like, and revulsion and fear filled their faces. Or maybe I looked like the motorcycle rider that I am, like somehow the blackness of heart and soul clung to the dark clothing I was wearing. I felt that, and I had a vague fleeting image of myself gathering a handful of reins, mounting up on a high black horse, and whirling away in a swirl of dust, the hooves of the horse throwing sparks from the metal of its shoes. I have ridden horses, and the juxtaposition of the two things, motorcycles and horses, merged into a fantastic imaginary story.
I calmed down and walked on, the music pounding so I could get energized and get going. It was a heady feeling of freedom, like I could do anything, almost as good as what I feel when I am on my mountain bike. When it was fully dark, I slowed down, finished my workout, and then I felt like dancing crazily to the loud and adult language-laced techno dance music I was listening to.
But … I made myself come back down to Earth, and went inside to cook dinner.