Nice and Easy…

That’s it.

As if trying to match the rotation of the earth spinning on its axis, taking the chance to observe every part of the atmosphere in its orbit, that is how the highway invites its drivers. The speed limit gleams bright, smiling the drivers into a steady parade. However, it’s almost as if it isn’t needed. The cars slow to a crawl, even at times, defying its warning, not able to reach its limit. And I join in bliss.

Behind the wheel, my mind drifts enjoying the ample forestry and wildlife roaming the streets. I jolt back to reality, only to realize that the cars in front of me and behind me have kept their distance, un-phased by my slow deceleration. They don’t honk, swerve or quickly pass me by, and when they reach my window they flash me a smile waving you back into the promenade.

And maybe that is why I walk alone…

Lifting up the explorative child within me, I investigate every chance I can get. The warm weather brushes against my skin, igniting a smile in my soul. The lizards scurry around me, grabbing my curiosity, causing me to chase them into the brushes. I look up, and soon enough I am lost in a wonderland of shrubbery.

I can feel the sweat creeping through my pours, half from nervousness to an unknown plain the other half from the warmth further stroking my adventurous nature, imploring me to run through paths that are unknown. With my shadow being my closest companion, the tunes in my head try to slow my pace getting me to match the mellow sounds it emits.

But I can’t stop.

I jump, flip, spin and touch everything in my path. There is so much to survey and yet not enough time to completely encompass everything around me. And then I take in the leaves.

As if in a vacuum, my thoughts guide me back to the age of single digit birthdays. Someone purchased a book full of leaves for me. Each page told me of a different species, naming their foundations – Elm, Oak, Maple, Red Wood, Bonsai, Palm. So many to encompass.

I see my mother.

We scamper through an open field, plastic bag in hand, her hair losing its shape as it is tortured by the wind. And there I am. Plucking at the ground as if having discovered the Wonka Factory, I grab leaves, match them to the pictures in my book and toss them into the plastic bag.

With each new discovery, I shriek towards my mother:

“How about this one? Do you like this one? Look at this one.”

Downplaying her annoyance, she forces wide eyes and a strangled smile:

“Yes, that is a good one!”

Her head shifts, disguising the roll of her eyes behind lightly shaded sunglasses. However, her love for me reaches beyond her discomfort, knowing her presence means more to me than a thousand candy castles.

Bathing in the tub of her approval, my stomach twists in knots at my discoveries, but even more so at her company. She has stepped into my world, if only for a few minutes, to see life as I did. And although, the leaves are crumbling dead within the bag, I run back home with her proud of my adventure – our adventure.

But then night falls and I snap back into reality…

I step out into the black haze. Street lights have taken no solace in this land, and the path is a stream of uncertainty. With my dwelling place being two miles away, I keep my sights towards the highway, which, unlike before, offers me no comfort as the cars seem to whisk by, some honking at me as if warning me of the danger.

I take a few steps. My legs begin to twist, begging me to turn around, to phone a friend, to flee; however my mind causes me to press on.

The bushes rustle. I release a nervous type of laughter that points more towards my lack of common sense than fear. The path winds and I face plant into a low branch, temporarily pulsating my lip. I hear laughter in the distance and eerie steps around every blackened turn. An animal runs across my path. I quicken my pace and soon my mind is thumping with prayers:

“Okay, God, I understand You say don’t put you through a foolish test. And, yeah, I am being extremely foolish. But can you please help me to get home safely. I understand this is really, really stupid, but I really, really need your protection right now, because I have no idea what or who will fall out of these bushes. And Lord…”

My prayers trail off as cars continue to bellow and run by me; however, that is not what catches my attention. Looking towards the sky, I can see a carnival of stars dancing against a black blanket. They are dazzling, memorizing even, as they twinkle in and out of focus, somehow illuminating the path in my heart – renewing my faith.

And although, I am alone, not even my shadow making an appearance, I feel engulfed, crowded even by an array of comfort.

The gas station comes into focus and I know I am safe. Two more turns and I am near my dwelling.

And although I may walk alone on many more ventures as I explore, maybe finding another who would want to explore my world with me, I will always remember the words to a very wise song:

“Give me a star, just one simple light and I’ll Never walk alone again at night.”

And although I got my stars, I’ll NEVER walk alone again at night.

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