Walking In Pain
I circle my block. My hip hurts. I won’t stop hurting. I stretch, I strengthen, it hurts. It’s my right hip, the leg I keep long and tense for the gas peddle, locked in pain right where the back of my leg meets the bottom of my spine. Driving has made it painful to walk. This metaphor for modern life is too on the nose, insulting even. The totalizing culture of the car — itself an extension of the totalizing mechanization of man — has so filled my mind and soul as to overflow into my muscles, cracking my back to better fit a seat I wish I didn’t have to take. The car demands that its constraints be naturalized, that the movements it allows be seen as freedom while it strips from you any semblance of freedom outside its structure. I already live in a car’s city. Now I walk in a car’s body.
Walking now is painful. At best the pain can be forgotten, breathed through. On rare occasions, with the right music and the right weed walking can even be therapeutic. On the worst days the pain robs the beauty. It sucks the oxygen from what is otherwise the closest thing a modern city dweller gets to freedom of motion in their own city.
The night is late. I’ve cleaned up the kitchen already and Naomi has gone to work but I didn’t make plans — the perfect time to walk. I’m not yet tired, I’ve done all the tasks I can or wish to do, I just have my mind, some weed, and maybe a podcast or playlist to keep my company. This should be good but it’s not.
For a span of maybe ten minutes I hit a good rhythm. Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the weed — I’m sure I could diagnose it if I care to but I don’t. I pass the Weinerschntizle and step into that good but embarrassing part of the walk where I’ve just got to stretch all my tight spots. The breath takes you there, expands you, it’s therapeutic, but then I hit a damn snag. My fucking hip. Just out of reach I think I can see the right way to stretch it. The limit of all these varied stretches as they reach infinity — a calculus of the body — will finally free this pain, but that’s the thing about limits and infinity, they’re damn unreachable. The pain sucks the fun from the walk, the freedom. It forces me to turn home.
What does a walker do when they can’t walk? When the walk is such an all pervading metaphor for thought that the sign and signified have become inseparable? How am I lessened by this fucking pain I’ve not been without for who knows how long?
I’m always afraid of cars. Crossing the street at night, windshields all seem to contain furious idiots, angry that anyone should be so dumb as to walk on their street, but now even as I go inside they’re still with me, polluting my muscles as much as their exhaust pollutes my lounges. I lay on the floor and try to stretch it out but end up fucking around on my phone for the rest of the night instead.
*A piece from ‘On Foot In The Unwalkable City’*