Sunday, July 31, 2011

My friend still walks.

He is probably 6' 4'', late 50's, gray hair, stocky. My headlights found him pacing the streets of my neighborhood nearly every morning since the first day I drove myself to high school. Some days it was just the two of us inching up the hill: me shifting gears in my plaid skirt, him shuffling determinedly in his sweat-drenched track suit. Every morning, like clockwork, a smile and a wave to start the day off right. I once considered writing him a Christmas card to thank him.

On a visit home from college this summer, I awake in a cold sweat, teeth loose and aching from clenching for hours as I labored through a bad dream. My dad strokes my hair. My dog licks my face. "It was only a dream," they reassure me. "Sometimes," I tell them, "it's not about the dream." The dream is just a reminder of uncertainty, of a lack of control over my own subconscious. Like a wolf nipping at my heels, it seems to slowly gnaw away my base, my security.
It exhausts and derails me, but it is a work day, and I have a long drive to campus ahead of me. So I get in my car, and I set out. I am almost to the exit of my neighborhood when I see the tracksuit, my friend, panting, still ready with a smile and a wave. A reminder that some things in life do remain constant.
My friend still walks, and I still stand.

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