It was around 9:30 and I was half way to town. I saw something off in the distance on the shoulder of the road coming toward me. The something was orange, and as I got a bit closer, I could see it was a person walking. The person gave a big, friendly wave to the driver in front of me, then a big, friendly wave to me as I drove by. Going 70 mph, I wasn't able to read all the words on the person's clothing, but I thought I saw something about "coast to coast" and "walk." I didn't get a real good look at the person. It might have been a guy ... wearing an orange dress.
Self Number 1 says: "Don't judge. Whomever it is apparently is walking coast to coast, and all you've got on your mind these days is a great big walking adventure, so shut up and if you see him on the way home, you damn well better stop and talk to him because he's probably very interesting and you might learn something."
Self Number 2 says: "But I don't talk to strangers, let alone strike up conversations with men wearing dresses walking down the highway in the middle of nowhere."
Self Number 1 says: "Grow up."
So I go to town, do my errands, and head for home. It's about 11:30. I mentally calculate how far a person could walk in two hours – 5 or 6 miles? – and where I should start looking for said person along the highway on the off chance I muster the courage to stop and talk to him.
This great-big-walking-adventure idea won't let go, you see. I blame it on Hannah and Chico. My reading list is filled with walking memoirs, and I'm 1,414 miles through a blog written by a guy who walked across China. I figure if I read enough stories by people who have embarked on these grand adventures, I will be able to talk myself into or out of an adventure of my own by the time I retire and am ready to take one (that would be 2020, more or less).
Anyway, just over the railroad tracks and very near the spot where I once got run over by a cow, there he was. I slowed way down and rolled down my window; we exchanged a few pleasantries, then I asked if he had a few minutes to chat. I pulled over.
Self number 2: "You go, girl!"
Self number 1: "I've lost my mind."
I pestered him with all the questions he must get asked a hundred times a day.
Where are you headed? New Jersey.
Where did you start? Monterey, California.
When did you start? October, but I took off the month of December.
How far have you walked? 1,700 miles.
Then I shut up and listened to his story and got a sense of the kind and genuine and gentle soul that he is, whose faith allows him to put one foot in front of the other and walk across the country carrying maybe 10 pounds of stuff in a small backpack. I was sort of in awe and wishing I was taking notes so that I could develop some of that faith myself. Did I mention he is a Hindu monk? Somewhere in there he mentioned facebook and I mentioned blog and pictures were taken, and now I have another walker to follow on his grand adventure.
This one will be all that more interesting because I will be reading the adventures of a friend.