I’ve been taking the bus quite a bit since I’ve been back. I’m not overly fond of the bus route, but more on that later. Whenever my knees permit, I walk. And over time, I’ve divided my path into a few distinct zones, depending on which direction I’m going in, time of day and how crabby I feel.
This picture shows my favorite bit of ‘The Beginning’. It’s past my department, with the experimental psychology building to the right and the medicine and pathology people to the left. Linacre college is almost directly in front, to the right of the inviting entrance of the bike path. There are many things happening in this photo.
One thing that stands out for me particularly, is that it’s still light out. Usually, I take this route a few hours after sundown, so it’s lit up by the streetlamps and the passing cars and bikes. And that’s when I can cue the ‘Introspective Phase’. Basically a rehashing of everything that went wrong in the day, how I made a complete fool of myself, obsessing over how my friends don’t love me anymore, how I’m a terrible friend and if I died overnight, nobody would notice until a few college lunches later. Or if it’s vacation time and lunches aren’t on, when my housemates notice the smell. Good times.
Back to the path. The main thing I really like about this path is how many paths you can see. Let’s write them down in a list and think about them very carefully.
1. The drive-way to the medicine buildings: Just-so-sloped so you can notice that the slope’s there, can feel the fact that you’re wearing ankle-shoes and it’s just wide enough that by the time you really pay attention to it, it’s over.
2. The pedestrian path on the left, right next to the fence: Wide enough to only REALLY allow one person at a time. Impossible when you are carrying a bag that sticks out of the side. Or when it’s rainy and one has an umbrella and the other has to side-step to avoid getting poked in the eyes. Also, importantly, for a few weeks last term, my friend and I observed the decomposition progress of an apple that had been stuck on the spikes of the fence. Fascinating, but almost heart-breakingly sad.
3. The gravely bike path to the right of the pedestrian one: Just wide enough for one bike. When I’m biking to the department and I’ve chosen the 9-10 a.m. slot, I am off the bike at this point. Still lack the dexterity to maneuver the bike well. And my knee is going ‘Nope. Stop now, human-person, I’m done’. I love walking on this path when I’m wearing my running shoes. I can feel the gravel and it’s lovely. Can only be managed VERY late or VERY early in the morning so there are no angry bike-people behind me.
4. The strip of road between the footpath and the double striped line: One day. When I’m brave enough, and am good friends with my bike, I will use this bit.
5. The road. This is South Parks Road: That curves BEAUTIFULLY and becomes St. Cross Road. This is the bit of road on which Linacre college is situated. And it faces the entrance of the University Parks and has a ‘landing’ on the side of the parks with the traffic signal for the pedestrians and cyclists. The beeping of the signal is one of the dominant sounds of the area. Besides the traffic of course.
6. The path in front of Psychology: This is a good path. Used it mainly while visiting the psychology building (not very fond of the building. It looks like it’s suspicious of everything and glares at the buildings around it). It’s wide and accommodating, and a bit further along, you get lovely plants and flowers through a fence.
But quite simply, this path comes with mixed feelings. I have had serious, heart-to-hearts on this one, soul-crushing revelations about myself and the beginnings of ‘things to do today’ thoughts. It’s uplifting when I’m walking TO the department, and morose and introspective when walking home. My favorite feelings on this one have been the cold wind in my face and the rustling of leaves just around leaf-fall of autumn. The delighted crunching and stomping through the leaf drifts when there aren’t many people around. That’s when your face smiles because it can’t help it and for a few moments, everything is alright in the world. The entrance to the path, just past the cycle barrier is when my walk home really starts. That bit of path is shaded, hooded and a little secretive. Exactly how it appears in this photo. It seems to say ‘Come along now, I’m here for you’.
It’s comforting in a very sad way.