Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wall, TX: The Broken and Mending Hearts of Texas

Miles since last blog: 31.2
Miles Total: 2502.4


I woke up late as I tend to do when I am indoors and then strolled to the edge of town to have a huge and leisurely breakfast. The day felt slow and sad in a beautiful type of way with the overcasting of clouds threatening the first storm in the area in who knows how long. Everyone I meet tells me about Blue Bonnets, a blue/violet flower that sprinkles the roadway here and there. They tell me about how it used to be before the droughts here, that when you looked at a field it was like looking at the ocean it was so filled with that blue. They always look proud and forlorn like an athlete talking about their glory days while bagging your groceries.

It's a different kind of beauty out here that is built on the shining souls of the people in what could be a desolate land. I am indoors again and it is not due to Couch Surfing, but again to a good person who saw someone in need - neither of these people were me, but I'll get to that.

I want the rain for the people of Texas, it would be base and selfish to wish that it didn't fall on me simply because I was walking. I can feel it ready to fall in the air and I welcome it (especially now that I'm inside). I had a long way to make it today to get to San Angelo, 44 miles, If I hadn't woken up so late I'd have made it probably, but then, I've found that the path my life takes has markers that lead its way even if I don't always know how to read them.

The roads here are littered with deer, dead, reeking of death and rot on the highway and if you smell it before you see it, it's that much worse because you're caught off guard. I'm used to road kill, it doesn't phase me in the slightest. I don't believe in Bigfoot for the simple reason that I haven't seen one dead on the side of the road and I have seen everything else, even things I didn't know existed. Today was different though.

Walking up the highway I saw a deer, it looked as if its back legs were half sized so that its body slid towards the ground at its end like a hyena. The highways out here are fenced with barbed wire on both sides everywhere, the deer leap over them with ease and move around, though once I saw a carcass hanging by one leg twisted between two strands of wire. The deer I was watching tried to leap the fence but only threw itself into the barbed wire. It looked up at it again and turned to run across the highway for the other side. When it hit the road I saw what was wrong, its legs had been broken in half. It was running as fast as it could on the broken knees with the rest of it's hind legs sticking out at odd angles. My hand immediately went to my mouth. I couldn't imagine the pain that it was going through, or the terror which had to be driving it to continue on like this. It ran across the highway and tried the other fence but ended up again thrusting its body again and again into the barbed wire there.

I wanted to flag someone down, someone would have a rifle, a gun, something. My eyes were tearing and for the first time I regretted not having a gun myself. I've never owned a gun, I've never shot a gun and before that moment I couldn't imagine why I would want too. I had a knife that was sharp and had found on the road in Louisiana, I knew how to kill an animal quickly and with relatively little pain but I knew I would never get close enough to do it. It was the most painful thing I have experienced on this walk so far and it killed me that all I did was keep walking.

This was the same road, possibly the same area, that Jolly Green, my friend bike riding the states, had gotten dehydrated on and nearly ended up very sick except that a woman picked him up out of the kindness of her heart. Jolly isn't a scary guy, but in the middle of night, in the middle of nowhere, nobody looks all that safe. Still someone helped him and it is because of that that I am inside tonight. Jolly gave me the number of a few people he met here in San Angelo, the woman who picked him up, P, and her friend who showed him the town while she was working, B.

Tonight B picked me up in the little town of Wall, not far from San Angelo, I'll be heading back there sometime to finish the walk in, but for now I am here. She's excited about having me speak to schools and inspiring kids in local schools she feels have broken spirits. I'm excited too. She told me about meeting Jolly. Her father had been found to have cancer around Thanksgiving and she said that it was so wonderful to have Jolly around, they all needed a distraction and to be reminded of a bigger world since their world had become so small, the size of a mass in a body. She felt it was amazing that two of us had come through and that we could do so much good not only for her but for anyone we met and she wanted me to meet as many people as possible. I was planning on moving out of San Angelo rather quickly but I'll stay to talk to kids for a while.

My walk has been filled with a lot of joy and inspiration, but it is a time in our country of great sadness, drought of water and economy and spirit. I've lived without water, I've lived without money, I want to tell everyone it will be okay and that you can dream of great things while struggling with the ordinary. I don't know what would give me the right to tell people this, but I said it anyway. I like to think that is in the hard times that love is proven, that is when you find something truly great because it can survive and flourish even in adversity, it is easy to be in love when times are good, but when times are bad and everything else is gone you find out what you truly have. Right now we have a great chance to find all the things that really are meaningful in life, it's not money, it's not things, but if you look you'll find something much more in the people all around you and the beauty in the world that is free for all. I like to think that that deer made it over the fence somewhere, I like to think it found a quiet place to lie down. I know it still hurt, but I like to think that it stopped feeling afraid.


Anonymous said...

you've lived without water?

Skip Potts said...

Perhaps I should have said, 'in drought,' I grew up in Northern California where we were always behind on water. Alternatively though, I survived almost entirely on beer in Prague and last Summer I was at a survival school in the desert with no access to traditional water systems and we had to drink muddy, mossy, mosquito larva infested still water to survive. So yeah, without water too.