this week i've been walking instead of running, because i'm coughing a lot and figure my respiratory system could use a rest. i like walking because it's easier than running. i dislike it for the same reason.
so i switch off days with the dogs on my walks. one day joker goes. the next, kaiser and phaedra. today as i walked out with joker, leaving behind two sets of sad, sad puppy dog eyes, i thought right now that part-time boyfriend would come in handy. add dog walking to the list of reaching things high up and lifting heavy stuff. he'd get extra points for offering to pick up that jar of vicks i keep forgetting. i will cough all night again tonight. it's okay. it distracts me from the other things that keep me awake.
i think it was on my tuesday walk when i felt my ponytail swinging behind me. i walked a little harder so it would swing more. it felt nice. it was one of those teeny moments that change absolutely nothing about life, except they make you think everything's gonna be okay.
i love anything that reminds me of being a kid, and ponytails do. i don't hate being an adult, mind you. i just lament the way adults get it all wrong. we act like kids in ways we shouldn't, and when we should remember the happy-go-lucky kid in us, we forget.
there are lots of pictures of me with ponytails when i was little. big, black ringlets spilling from rubber bands with ribbons tied around them. i bet my ponytail swung like crazy the time i ran from joe h., the child molester who flashed my friends and i when we were playing across the street from my house in stealey. i'll never forget looking up at the bushes by the brick garage next to chris swaney's yard, and seeing that tall, thin man with the deep set eyes and dark circles. i ran like my life depended on it, because at that moment i really thought it did. my brother ran, too, except he ran after joe. he was throwing rocks, still dressed in his orange and white little league uniform. at 12 years old my brother didn't think twice, not for a second, about defending me, even against a grown man. when i got home, my dad grabbed the wooden club he kept in the downstairs closet and drove off up that steep alley hill like his life depended on it...because to him, it did. i remember the look in his eyes. it was one of the few times in life i've felt terrified.
joe didn't hurt anyone that day, and eventually he ended up in jail. he gave me a good scare, though. i remember sitting in the front yard, maybe weeks later, holding onto the railing at the bottom of the steps because i was afraid to be too far from the house. it took a while for me to play in the neighborhood without expecting to look up and see him.
i didn't intend to write about joe tonight, or ever. how odd that my ponytail pondering took me to a frightening memory. there's actually a lot of good in that day, though. it makes me remember there is honor in the world, and it's right there where you always knew it was. it's in other places, too. i hope. if it brought me a jar of vicks tonight i'd be convinced.