It was almost seventy degrees outside today. Since I am going to Hawaii in May and it seems like everything will be a two-mile walk, I have been trying to walk a bit more, so I put on the iPod and went out for a while today. I crossed through an area north of my house, north of the highway that consists of a lot of warehouses, small homes covered in barbed wire, and lots of half-disassembled and scavanged Crown Vic taxicabs on blocks. It’s all concrete, not much in the way of life, just a set of twisted railroad tracks on pylons and steel a few dozen feet in the air, snaking through the buildings a hundred years after they were put there, as an afterthought. I watched a trio of Conrail blue locomotives pushing steel across the horizon, and the random shuffle of the iPod (which I sometimes think is not that random, based on the songs it sometimes throws at me), and it hit me with a Peter Gabriel song – Secret World – from a ten-year-old album that made me think of ten years old. Back in 1993, when I used to take the same kind of walk once or twice a day, listening to the walkman, I’d walk underneath the trestles at 15th Street in Bloomington, and I’d sometimes look up at an engine assembling together boxcars into a freight train as I hustled toward class, toward work. And now here it was, ten years later, worlds away, watching trains as a killed an afternoon a step at a time.
It’s all stupid but symbolic that I think of my life ten years back, the relationship I was starting in 1993 and how great it feels to be in love in the spring, to start something new and know it’s mutual. And that carried through the summer and into the fall, and then it was over. I should have forgotten about all of this years ago. I’ve been through enough other, longer relationships to think this should have been bumped out of the cache long ago. But it’s funny how a nice round number can make things come up again. And for the rest of the walk, things felt so insignificant, in the sense that I felt like nothing had happened in the last ten years, that I was back to walking nowhere with a walkman on my hip instead of doing anything productive with my life. And that sounds stupid, given everything that has happened in the last decade. But it’s weird how things can go full-circle on you like that.