Talking to yourself: a short-distance phone call

I have to take long walks. If I don’t walk, I can’t make sense of the tangle in my head. And sometimes, sometimes, I talk to myself while I walk.

I talk to myself when the tangle is especially tight. Like any knot, you have to start with a bit of the string and isolate it from its peers and set it aside — stay there, you crazy piece of string, while I find out where you came from. Sometimes the only way to set a thought aside is to say it aloud, even if you happen to be in public.

There are drawbacks. Like a recent warm summer night, walking north on Clark St. I ran into three friends walking south.

–We thought that was you.
–Yeah, I said ‘that girl’s built just like Lindsay…’
–And then you were talking to yourself.

But mostly nobody says anything. Some people wear those Bluetooth headsets to talk on the phone, and basically that’s what I’m doing too. Except I don’t have to buy a Bluetooth, and I don’t have to find another person to talk to.

Lately the knot is tight, tight, tight because in the past month so much has happened. It happened in a rush/crush/push: I visited my family in Buffalo; saw Janelle and Deanna and Skyped in Janelle’s new Alaskan boyfriend and ate cupcakes with Deanna’s Rochester sweetheart. I drove solo to Vermont, and tooled around in the rolling hills covered in purple flowers, and met the family and friends of J, this boy I like, and spent a day in Cambridge devouring books and pizza, and drove with J back to Buffalo, and spent a day in there– a day of Janelle, books, grandparents, food — and then flew back to Chicago and then drove to Michigan for Eliina’s pre-wedding weekend, which involved wine on the beach, swimming in the lake, dance-dance-dancing.

In summation: new people, old people, new places, old places, and long, looping conversations with those who matter, who are facing crossroads and choosing their yellow-wooded paths.

This morning I got out my bike and went for a ride, a fast ride, the kind I love, but my seat felt too high all of a sudden, my cat-back arched too sharply. So I walked it. And my body realized I was walking, and then I started thinking, and then I started mumbling, and then I knew that the knot was too tight, time to untangle, uncoil, unclasp, unmangle. And remember that of course I did this myself, I made this knot, and if I can only remember which string goes where, and set this thread here, and this one there, it will all fall loose into a line as straight as the horizon, the highway, the edge of the lake, the shortest phone call between two points, the beginning of something new.

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