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One Step at a Time

Moss Piglet, May 2023

One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time

It started innocently enough. A typical Saturday morning. Tara stopped by. She brought lattes. I made scones. She idly looked through my bookcase, running a finger over the spines as she checked out the titles. She’d loved A Walk in the Woods, the Bill Bryson classic.

“What’s this one?” she asked, holding up A Walk Across America.

“Different,” I said. “Not comical, but wonderful. Peter Jenkins’ epic journey. It’s old. You’ll like it.”

After reading Peter Jenkins, Tara wanted more. Crossing the country in unconventional ways is a thing. People do it on bikes, skates, Segways and Onewheels™. One guy rode an electric skateboard. Andy Raney and Jeremy Make did it in a golfcart named Christine. Tara’s interest

lay in people who walked. There are lots of them.

Peace Pilgrim covered 25,000 miles in her 28 years on foot, before her untimely death in an automobile accident. Steve Vaught called himself The Fat Man Walking. He lost, by his account, 102 pounds but didn’t save his marriage. Matt Green walked from Rockaway Beach, New York

to Rockaway Beach, Oregon in only five months before embarking on his over decade-long quest to walk every block in New York’s five boroughs. As far as I can tell, he’s still at it. 

The late Granny D, aka Doris Haddock, took over a year to cross the country. Her stated purpose—campaign finance reform. I joined her and some of her followers when she arrived in DC. We walked the last few miles together, ending on the Capitol steps. I held her hand. She was 90 years old. She was badass.

Our fascination with traveling across the country turned to obsession. We began to hatch a plan. We were committed to doing it old style, one step at a time. I was mired in grief from the death of a loved one. Also, I had kind of quit my job. Tara was reeling from a painful breakup. We

were ripe for adventure.

We amassed supplies. I found cheap but road-worthy jogging strollers. That’s what we’d carry our supplies in. We got solar chargers; a tent that sprung into place when taken out of its carrying case; a tiny cookstove; headlamps; sleeping bags. We weighed the relative merits of bringing various comforts of home. I wanted my electric juicer—pictured us in gas station bathrooms squishing beets and carrots and kale into the hopper, healing juices emerging. Not the most practical idea. Tara humored me.

We figured we needed a hook, a purpose. Although peace is an awesome goal, we figured we weren’t the ones to sell that. Any way you cut it, we were no Granny D. We weren’t obese. We had no agenda, no high and lofty goals other than our lives sucked and we wanted to walk away.

We had some savings and credit cards, but what would we do if we needed money? Neither of us was inclined toward prostitution of any kind. So that wasn’t an option. 

We came up with a solidplan. I’d teach yoga in studios willing to host a visiting teacher. Maybe I’d hold impromptu classes in town squares and parks. That one sounded a bit iffy, but time would tell. Tara could do

portraits – quick pencil drawings. Tara is an artist. She’d have to beef up her caricature drawing skills. No small feat for an oil painter. I had faith  We’d try not to get arrested.

Then I found it. I’d hang smileys, my yarn bombs. Colorful knitted creatures – buttons for eyes, wisps of yarn hair and of course, smiles. It was a hobby. I tied them to posts, trees, stop signs, anywhere that felt right. Yarn-bomb the entire country with smiles! I had my purpose.

Months went by. Tara got a new girlfriend. I got a new job. We got older and lazier. Our strollers gathered dust; their tires went flat.

Wanderlust may fade, but it doesn’t take much to rekindle. Last week Tara found a camper for sale. It’s old but it looks promising. She’s wondering if she should buy it. I don’t see a space for the juicer but we’ll see. Everything’s negotiable.

Maybe we will hit the road this time. In the meantime, I hang smileys. If you have me over for dinner I’ll most likely leave one somewhere in your neighborhood. Want to smiley up your town? We’ll gladly drop one off as we pass by. I’ve been known to pop a few in the mail as well.

That’s probably a better bet.

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