a peaceful evening stroll

I lean toward being a morning person by nature, but my evening walk is the highlight of my day. It's my proverbial glass of wine; it helps me unwind, relaxes me, and leaves me feeling a little buzzed. James has been on a business trip all week and Gracie chose that time to go on a nap strike, so my need for quiet and alone time had hit a critical level by the time James got home yesterday. I was so tired I was frantically looking for my coffee earlier in the afternoon until I realized I had been holding it the entire time. Even so, my need for time to myself trumped my need to face plant in my bed where I could be found at a moment's notice by a toddler with strong opinions on her impending bath time.

A few steps out the door I was attacked a dog. I like dogs and don't mind a dog excited to see me, but its barking was so loud and shrill I could actually feel my eardrums bursting. After multiple days of a toddler crying for a different pair of pajamas and food we don't have, a barking dog was at the bottom of the list of things I could tolerate. It jumped all over me while the owner stood by laughing. After several awkward moments I got away, and then took a different route since the still-barking dog was going my normal route.

I got to the park and hid in the bushes to dodge the unconfirmed sighting of a park friend. She caught me on my evening walk recently and gave me her number to text her so she can come with me some time. She's so sweet, I enjoy seeing her at the park, and I really will invite her to do something, but much like nap time, my evening walk is a sacred time for me to listen to podcasts, music, and not talk. I felt bad, but an exhausted mom's gotta do what an exhausted mom's gotta do.

A few minutes later, about a mile away from home, I felt something in my hair. The only way to describe it was a cross between a twig and a small bird. It felt like nothing I've felt before and I freaked out. When I was 12 or 13, I was at an Ohio State football game and ran my fingers through my hair. A bee had been lurking in my frizzy brown locks and stung me. Every time I feel an unnatural movement in my hair, it's panic mode. I bent my head down and violently waved it around. I jumped, I leaped, I screamed. I think I tap-danced a little. In hindsight, it probably looked like either a sudden demonic possession or an exorcism. I was too scared to look up and see if anyone had been watching. I finally got enough nerve to reach my hand back up, and whatever had been in my hair seemed to be gone. I walked a little longer, and once I regained brain function, I used my front-facing camera to see if I could see anything still there. What I saw was clumps of my hair pulled out of my bun, hanging wildly.

I fixed my hair, giving it one more good shake, and somehow managed to lose a contact in the process. I have a strong prescription, so walking a mile back home with one contact in and one out is out of the question. I've learned from experience that it results in a headache and nausea. By a stroke of luck, through my vision-corrected eye I found my contact lying on the sidewalk, undamaged. I scooped it up, spit on it, stuck it back in my eye, and all the germaphobes of the world had a collective seizure.

It wasn't until the panic of the hair fiasco started to fade that I realized what I had done. In the chaos of the moment, it had felt like the exact right decision.The things that have happened on that sidewalk. The dogs, the bottoms of shoes, the insects. Have you thrown up yet? I'm no germaphobe, but I started to fervently pray away any kind of grungy sidewalk eye cancer I had obliviously stuck in my eye and continued my walk, determined to forget what I had done, even though saliva was seeping out of my eyeball. It may be psychosomatic, but there is a very dull ache in that eye, even though that contact is deep in the trash. If I wake up in the morning with zero vision in my left eye, at least I'll know why.

I kept walking on the cracked sidewalk, under the cover of mature trees, listening to my September playlist. It's what I call the music I gravitate toward every late summer/early fall. Lots of acoustic guitar, a pinch of banjos, and the occasional fiddle. You can feel the temperature drop and smell the pumpkin spice lattes brewing with every song. Jamestown Revival started to play. It's the only band I could listen to my first trimester. I listened to it every time I drove to and from work and all day at work. All other music actually made me nauseous, but Jamestown Revival and their star-spangled, all-American sound would soothe the morning sickness to the point that I could stop pulling the car over to throw up. For a year after, I couldn't listen to them without getting sick. It took me back to the hazy, puke-infested months of early-mid pregnancy. I can usually listen to them now and be fine, but occasionally that sensation will hit and I'll have to change the song before hurling. It's been three years, but the wave of nausea bowled over me on the sidewalk last night to the point that I had to stop and dry heave.

Once I regained my composure, I kept going. A herd of grandparents, grandchildren, and a gaggle of wagons and strollers pushed me off the sidewalk. I tripped trying to get out of the way, and my iPhone disconnected from my headphones, flew out of my hand, and barrelled down the sidewalk.

I walked back through the park on my way home. In the distance, I saw a man dressed in all black, sitting alone on a bench. It unnerved me a little. He stared me down as I got closer, and I started to wonder if he was going to kill me. Or talk to me. Or talk to me and then kill me. Thankfully he chose to talk to me. I had been getting in the zone listening to The Oh Hellos, and even though headphones are the universal "don't talk to me" signal, he opened his mouth.

"Are you here for the raid?"

"The what?"

"The raid."

I had heard him the first time, but I was very confused. My very first thought was that he was an undercover cop about to go on a drug bust. That was ridiculous considering the fact that he was in a park in a suburban, well-to-do neighborhood. I had also wondered if he said "rave," and even though it seemed like a strange location, I could've gone for a dance party.

"What raid?" I asked.

"The Pokemon raid!"

Oh barf.

I told him I was not there for a Pokemon raid, which should've been apparent by the fact that I was on a walk and clearly leaving the park area. He gestured toward my workout gear and said "you know, my wife and I downloaded the app, and now we walk an extra mile every night." I didn't even know what to do with that. Even though I was slowly stepping away, he filled me in on Pokemon and how now there are original birds and how this area is a stop and honestly, he could've been speaking in Korean for as much as I understood him. I chose not to tell him that my days of hating Pokemon go back to the 5th grade, when it was all people would talk about at school and it drove me crazy. My dad had been teaching me to shoot at the time, and I had gotten a Pokemon poster that came free with something. I used it as target practice at the gun range. I finally got away, promising to send any Pokemon lovers I came across to the park, since apparently they needed more people for their alleged raid. A few minutes later, I passed a nerdy, awkward guy wearing short shorts. Had I not still been recovering with what felt like a conversation with Michael Scott himself, I might have mentioned it to him. Something tells me I didn't have to. Not that all Pokemon lovers are nerds or guys, but you didn't see the boys in my 5th grade class. I can't separate the two.

I got back home to find Gracie's Pooh Bear, soaking wet, sitting on the green chair next to the front door.

I don't even know, but at that point it was a sight for sore eyes.

Sore eyes that will probably be looking through glasses for the foreseeable future.


  1. I think my favorite line ever might be that you used your Pokemon poster for Target practice. That's hysterical.

    I hope your eye is okay!

  2. Stopping at your blog after seeing your comment on Laura's...I am so glad the Pokemon craze has died down a little around here. Last summer I visited the Little Brown Church in the Vale and they found it necessary to put up a sign in the entrance to the sanctuary telling people not to hunt Pokemon in the church or on the grounds! Around the same time I went to a courthouse to sight-see and was taking a picture of my grandma near a statue when a news reporter walked up to us and asked if we were hunting Pokemon! We weren't of course, but we saw plenty of young men in the area who looked like they were.

  3. I'm soooooo with you on the Pokemon thing. And every story I hear about contacts just makes me happy that I've never been brave enough to try them.

  4. Pokemon craze stopped as abruptly as it started, huh? I tried it but I didn't really enjoy it.

  5. How do these kind of walks happen to you??


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