Thursday, January 24, 2008

Birthday Monday

Five years ago, to familiarize myself with parts of Buffalo I otherwise was ignorant of, I decided that I would take a day-long walk around Buffalo to commemorate my birthday. I wasn't raised celebrating my birthday and have since never preferred attention being brought to it or make a big deal about it. But why not at least take such a walk on a date I'd remember? Besides, that extra money Mom refuses not to give me (and which I certainly begrudgingly accept) every year for my birthday is perfect for just such an event.

Of course, just as last time, the weather was windy and below ten degrees to start the day off. But, once again, this wouldn't deter my attempts at taking the entire day to make my way around.

This time I started with breakfast at Bertha's Diner and Hertel around 11am and took it from there. I had only general plans at best and decided it best to just go wherever I wished to go. This time especially being significant with my impending departure, I wanted the day to be free of any unnecessary stress and just take the day and the city in as much as I could.

I had made quite my way around North Buffalo for a few hours, making it over to South Campus and as far north as Kenmore Ave before making my way down one of my three favorite Buffalo streets, Starin Ave. But after only two hours, and probably not just because I stupidly only wore one pair of pants but probably also because I am now five years older than the last time I tried this walk, my knee started hurting so badly that it forced me to limp over to the Humboldt subway station and make my way downtown via the Metro Rail.

Still, the walk wasn't a total loss. The simple act of walking has a way of clearing the mind of the unnecessary worries--such as those that have left me, at times, so anxious/analytical/depressed over the last few weeks that I have had little luck at doing much more than finding myself on a deprived and demented sleep schedule--that it becomes medicinal if not even meditative. And as such, I was able to clear my mind just long enough to think of things that I have needed to think about for some time now.

The main one I'll get to in my next post. As for the secondary one, I was once again able to take in another day of enjoying the neighborhoods of Buffalo. I even cleared my camera so as to take as many pictures of the places I walked as possible.

And in walking, and taking in the streetscapes while it lightly snowed on already snow covered lawns and streets, and the others equally bundled up and out walking as though the cold and snow were barely a hindrance at all, I knew I was taking in Buffalo for what I have always appreciated it for and probably always would.

But those streetscapes, and the houses and the general atmosphere they help create will always be here in some form or another. As I made one more gut check as to whether or not I really wanted to leave here, I came away again more certain that I did. For what I find so comforting in the landscape, I now find lacking in my emotional attachment to the city. For whatever reason, true or disillusion, everything here has an air of permanence. From the large, worn-in, inviting homes to the families I've seen my cousins my age now being, it is a permanence I have no direct access to at the moment and may in fact never--for better or worse--have access to.

It was easy for me to pass through the streets an unnoticed bypasser taking in the view. But as has become apparent to me over the last seven months (or more?), it, for me, is a whole other matter to try to feel the sense of impermanence I still find myself in need of amongst such a place that affords the wonderful, stable comforts home and history. For reasons I may not even be certain of myself, right now I know it's time to move on once again. It may just be pointless running that I'm doing, it may not be; I may just wind up back here again, I may not. But right now, as I reassured myself on that walk, it's what I need to do.

I noticed Buffalo will always be my home on my walk.

But sometime ago, I left that home. I came back believing that it still was and wanting to make sure. But just as I couldn't recreate the walk I took five years ago--my knees are getting older--as the saying goes, I also couldn't go home again.

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