All the paths have been beaten in a city.
They’ve been beaten, paved, put on a grid, numbered, named, given an honorary name recognizing someone the city council wants to flatter and digitized by a Google Street View van.
But you can try to find a path that’s new, odd or at the very least slightly less beaten than the others.
It’s a simple process. Get to a corner and say, “Left, right or straight?”
Go that way.
In a light, sprinkling rain and a breeze that would be chilling except for January expectations, we did that. We did that for hours.
Left, right or straight?
We walked by houses and judged them, said whether we thought the painted blue door was too gaudy or if we liked it. We walked by old factories long since closed or converted, talked about where American manufacturing went.
We stood by a crook of the river’s north branch where garbage collected and named what we saw. Two volleyballs. A pillow. Bottles and cans and what I think was the seat of a Little Tikes plastic picnic table.
We wandered and ambled, an hours-long path from her place to mine with a stop along the way for a cup of decaf and a sit.
Every place we went had been paved and marked. Our coffee shop wasn’t a cutesy out-of-the-way bit. It was a Starbucks in that strip mall off Fullerton.
“There is nothing new under the sun,” the Bible says, although it should be pointed out Ecclesiastes 1:9 was written a thousand or two years before matches, cars, aspirin and the printing press.
They might have jumped the gun, which also didn’t exist at the time, on saying everything had been done.
Even if we believe those words written a century or three before paper, even if we feel in our hearts that everything had been done and our little ambles and adventures take us down paths beaten, paved and honorarily named for Daley campaign contributors, it doesn’t matter.
It’s new and beautiful to us. The blue-doored houses and vacant riverfront factories are our new-trod path.
Our adventure is ours. It doesn’t matter if anyone had done it before. Left, right or straight?