Author : Glenn Blakeslee
It’s a disease, I guess, an affliction. My body is bound to a parallel.
No, not a geometric form, but a line around the earth. I’m bound to the 38th parallel.
I woke one morning dizzy, with throbbing pain in my limbs and abdomen. I hurt for days, but I found each time I went south the pain subsided. A few miles south of my home the pain and dizziness went away completely, and I actually felt good.
My friends thought I was crazy, but lent me a GPS. I found I was right on top of the parallel. I went back again and again for relief, until finally I lay down and slept there for the night. When I woke I felt wonderful, but I couldn’t go away again. It made the pain worse.
I couldn’t go west, either. I could only move within a half mile of the parallel, always east. So I started walking.
My job and home were behind me forever. At first I survived off friends, and then on the kindness of strangers. At times I went for days without food, always walking east. I figured it was a magnetic thing, the cells of my body aligned along certain points. All I could do was keep walking.
Am I worse off than you? Most people are bound to a region, a geographic area of a few hundred miles. The area I live in is more narrow than yours, but greater for its fantastic width. As humans we are bound to place, but my place is without end.
My family and friends figured I was obsessed, like in a movie, so they organized my eastward journey as a charity, a round-the-world walk for peace. It helped to pay the way.
It was painful crossing oceans. I spent the time asleep, mostly. Getting back to the parallel was the only way to find relief.
My route took me over the driest, most desolate place on earth. I had my pack with a little food and water, but I was so low that I was ready to lie down and die. That’s when I found Eliza.
I first saw her as an indistinct speck on the horizon, but as I walked the speck moved closer until I could discern it was another person. A woman.
Our paths intersected. She was the barest slice of a girl, but I loved her instantly. She spoke my language. We sat and talked for hours. I didn’t want to move forward. I asked her to walk with me.
She said that she could not.
She told me she was bound to a great circle, like mine. Her path would diverge from mine, as it followed the ecliptic rather than the purely geographic. We plotted our paths on the map from my pack. They would cross again in the American Midwest.
If we could find our way there, we could stay together in a hospitable place —our lives complete within a half-mile radius. I would gladly give up my narrow freedom for love and companionship.
We made love, and we stayed in the spot of our confluence until our food almost ran out. I took her picture with my cell phone. We made plans to meet and then we parted, our paths gradually diverging.
It was very difficult.
I made my way around the earth, across on my line, anticipating our meeting. And here I am in this fine town –Saint John, Kansas.
So, sir, have you seen this girl?
How about you, sir? Have you seen this girl?
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