This will be a good one, reader. It’s been far too long since I’ve made you smile.
Right now inside my closet, buried underneath some ragged brown mocassins and running Nikes, are a pair of white, Bata sneakers, euro size 42. I purchased these shoes on a whim in the middle of Italy and I’ve probably worn them roughly twenty three times over the past two years. They were a spur-of-the-moment kind of buy; one of those bargains that brews up just enough remorse in the days and weeks that follow. I imagined them becoming my favorite sneakers. But as my wardrobe continued to expand in all directions, I quickly realized that the potential I had in mind for those sneaks was dearly overestimated. Besides, they’re actually terribly uncomfortable.
Yet tonight, I come back to them with a smile. Like a kid revisiting his old baseball mitt.
But let’s put ’em aside for a bit.
Rewind the clock three weeks and you’d find in front of you a shaggy-haired hippy-looking fellow fresh out of college who’s hellbent on keeping that dirty look going as long as possible. He knows all too well that the clean, well-kept hairdo is a much better fit, yet he stubbornly resists the clippers. His friends have been preaching for months to find a barber, but his only response is a quick flip of his locks and a condescending smile. He laughs it off. He knows he’s going through “the grubby phase”, and his reasons for doing so are worthy, but there’s something growing in the back of his mind of which even he is unaware.
Suddenly he wakes up and can’t stand it anymore. Within three hours, he’s smirking at himself through a mirror as a pair of shiny sheers slip through his dampened mop. A year and a half of progress falls so easily to the floor. As the stylist clips away at his curls, he casts his glance downward to the ever-growing pile of wavy browns on the floor.
Like tree rings he sees a part of his timeline carved into each strand. A summer. A girl. A heartbreak. A dark time. All of it is there, painting the glossy linoleum beneath his toes. He moves in and out of small talk with the sociable lady (who happily welcomed his walk-in) and those memories that are flashing at him from the floor. How fragile hair can be. “All done,” she says with a smile, “and look how much you lost!”. He chuckles to himself; she has no idea how right she is.
And then he’s gone into the wind of an open highway.
Within a week, he capitalizes on that spontaneous life combustion. An aura of confidence long lost has erupted around him; he’s glowing outwardly. Like a quick snap of the fingers countering hypnosis, he suddenly feels alive again and ready to relish in his nook of the world.
He has crushes.
“How refreshing!” he says. A sudden sort of magic has his heart beating for all the right reasons. It’s a sensation he is used to, but one that has been lacking from his life for eight long months. The boy’s a flirt and, seemingly out of nowhere, he has room to mingle with the butterflies. And it’s fun. And they smile. And so does he.
He starts running.
Metaphorically, of course, but also quite literally. A quick peek at his watch before the first song starts to play: 19:46. The cool summer breeze pushes him along and the tunes in his ears are hitting all the right notes. He’s grinning as he trots about the streets. Without a plan at all he swiftly cruises through each crossroad. And at the tipping point of his route he decides to sprint even farther from home. Then the sun starts to set and he hasn’t stopped. It’s 21:46 by the time he returns and the bones and the joints in his body are screaming. But he’s singing. He can’t be stopped.
The little prick in his vein was something he always wanted to feel but constantly placed at a safe distance. “One day,” he tells himself, “I’ll fill a little bag of my own.” But the fear of the pain always kept him at bay. Not twenty four hours prior the boy was lacing his shoes for the longest run of his life. Now he’s leaned back in an oversized armchair as the nurse instructs him to squeeze tight every three to five seconds. His life pumps out of him. How long has he held on to that blood? He remembers the stories that the hair told and loves the thought of the red running from his system. “You did your homework,” the lady says, “because it’s flowing like water!” He wonders if she heard what he was thinking. The needle slides out and he’s walking away.
He only knows today.
“I promise,” he tell himself, “to keep my clock set to twenty four.” His oath to spontaneity has already saved his life. Two months ago, the routine that swallowed him never let any room for an impromptu dinner or an improvised date night. But tonight, he’s buried in the blades of grass, counting the stars above him, minimizing his life to the length of one day. One spin of this planet is all he knows; it’s all he can see. That’s what he’s promised.
He jumps on his bike and rides into the night.
It’s nearly eleven at night and the three-wicked candle is nearing it’s end. I’ve never made it to the end of my own candle before! The pool of “warm white sands” scented liquid has started bubbling and I fear a house fire, which means it’s lights out for Sammy G. I can’t even tell you how magical my life has been these past three weeks. As cheesy as it sounds, it all started with a haircut, and the timing couldn’t have been more spot-on. So I’m riding the wave of the spontaneous summer and have committed myself to the length of one day. This season gives space for that, which is why I crave it all year long.
Oh, and those shoes that I was talking about. I can’t say I’ll wear them anytime soon. But I can say that every time I’ve ever worn them, I’ve never planned to do so. Which reminds me of the question of the day: “why not?”. I asked my second grade boys that question this morning and none of them could come up with a decent response (which, if you know kids, is a rare occurrence). So the next time I’m on the fence about some strange purchase, or being invited to a fiesta, or giving blood, or seeing a movie I know nothing about, or having another scoop of ice cream, or learning how to sew, or jumping out of a plane, I’ll resort to those pair of words. And I’ll leave you with one of my favorite little ideas that goes well with “why not?” and this summer of living on impulse:
When was the last time you did something for the first time?