Cyclical – Mya Copeland
Harrison to Woodbine, down to Adams, back to Geyer, final stretch of Woodbine, then home. That was my route, all summer long.
Day after day, week after week, I walked the same route. Some days, I walked it twice, spending an hour or more with just music and my thoughts. Most days, I opted for a single lap before returning to the solitude of my room.
I discovered my favorite houses to walk past (the “witch houses” on Adams), my biggest pet peeves (cars zooming past with teenagers who found it amusing to screech at me) and the best music for walking (Wasteland, Baby! by Hozier). I found an appreciation for the strange serenity found only by walking in concrete circles and staring into the sky.
Once school began, the walks gradually ended. But as I reflect on them almost a year later, I am overwhelmed by comparisons. Spring 2020 vs. spring 2021. Everything is circular. As anniversaries pass, it’s human nature to mark them. And I suppose I’ve marked them as well. Unconsciously noting when dates pass, mourning what was lost last year and sometimes foolishly wishing for change this year. We got back some events (senior prom, in-person school, track). Others we didn’t (hallway decorating, Turkey Day, homecoming). In light of the events we reclaimed, the ones that didn’t return hurt even more.
I hardly felt the loss of my Sweet 16 almost a year ago. I came to terms with a socially distanced birthday and as a self-proclaimed introvert, didn’t miss the stereotypical celebration. Yet my arguably less significant 17th birthday is looming, and I’m dreading how I will celebrate. If time were a perfect cycle, I would celebrate with friends on my driveway and a car parade. But some cycles break, and I fear that I will spend my 17th alone in my room with ABBA. I dread being forced to isolate in my tower, a la Rapunzel, either by way of quarantine or by parental mandate.
And that is a cycle that will never be broken. The cycle of my mind, the endless circling I suffer and entrap myself within. I’ll never escape that, no matter how many therapy sessions and global catastrophes I endure. But it’s something I have become accustomed to, for better or for worse.
I found an appreciation for the strange serenity found only by walking in concrete circles and staring into the sky.”
My summer walks helped calm my mind, if only for a short time. The hours I spent walking my route last summer allowed for a freedom I don’t often experience. And one that I will likely lose this summer. I’ll be too busy chasing circles around the campers at work to spend time walking around Kirkwood. I suppose it’s a shift in the right direction, a sidestep from the cycle of COVID-19 back into the cycle of “normalcy” (whatever that means now). But it’s coming far sooner than I’ve been expecting. And after 14 months of the same cycle of uncertainty before reopening, a surge, then the waves subsiding, I’m not sure if I’ll remember how to navigate the cycle I’ve been absent from for so long.
But when things get overwhelming, I’ll put in my earbuds, turn on Hozier and walk my route. Harrison to Woodbine, down to Adams, back to Geyer, final stretch of Woodbine, then home.