Once a month, the local library hosts a booksale. Paperbacks are $0.50 hardcovers are $1. It’s an event worth attending, since my “to read” list grows at an alarming rate. I purchased five books there in March, only one was on my list, which tends to happen in bookstores.
This time, I thought I’d raise the stakes and make an adventure out of it. Instead of driving to the library, which would take 10 minutes and a few tablespoons of liquified dinosaurs, I decided to walk 2.5 miles to the library, and 2.5 miles back. I packed my old college backpack with the two books I was donating, some cash and coin (they don’t take cards…what year is this?), and my “to read” list, hastily scrawled on a DoubleTree hotel notepad I borrowed from a training course in Virginia. On my voyage I crossed over the railroad tracks, went around the vague yet menacing research building, past abandoned bus stops and the kid’s soccer team outside Dunkin Donuts. I tried to decipher a discarded Chinese newspaper and took the long way around the building to not disturb the Tai Chi group. The walk took about 40 minutes, so I was tenth in line outside the door just before 10am.
Minutes later, I followed the crowd into the conference room/book market. I was immediately surrounded by hundreds of mediocre fantasy novels and old IT reference tomes. Kids hopped with excitement over finding the perfect VHS film and sobbed with despair over the outrageous $2 price. I wasn’t the only one with a list, some of the old people turned up with a half-dozen tote bags to haul their repositories of sacred knowledge off the premises. I didn’t find anything on my list, but I bought two books anyway: Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob DeZoet by David Mitchell.
On the return trip (There and Back Again), I was passed by the brightest blue Ferrari 458 I’ve ever had the privilege to witness. Cherry blossoms fluttered in the gentle breeze as the birds chirped overhead. Thanks to a few pre-emptive Advil, my swollen knee didn’t give me much trouble.
Walking as a form of transportation is somewhat rebellious in the sprawling suburbs. No one walks, and certainly not too far, because they have two or three cars. If they don’t have a car, they’ll strangle whatever utility they can out of the inconvenient public transport system, so I had the sidewalk to myself most of the time. Walking also offers the most direct travel experience. No other method has the same sensations; the grit underfoot, the roar of passing cars, the fatigue of propelling oneself inexorably forward. It takes much longer, but it’s far more interesting. As an added benefit, the sun replaced my sickly pallor with a tan more appropriate for my mixed ethnicity. The small decision to walk, made the difference between an errand and an adventure.