I’ve always loved walking. I would walk to school even when the bus was readily available. I’m going to be the grandpa who brags about walking to school uphill both ways in the middle of a hailstorm, wearing no shoes and no coat, alone and unloved and abandoned by God, etc.
I’m going to be the best grandpa.
Anyway. I had this little game where I would count the steps I took between “cracks” in the sidewalk. The cracks could be actual cracks or they could simply be the thin spaces between blocks of cement. Most blocks weren’t cracked, so it would take an average of two steps to step over the “crack” to the next block. Sometimes, particularly big blocks would take three, or even four steps. Smallish ones I could occasionally get away with only one step.
The game was to take no more than two steps between cracks. Two was par. Any more steps and I’d be gaining points, and the idea was to have a low average per crack-step. If I managed one step or fewer (stepping over two or more cracks at once, for example), I would start lowering my average, which was good. If there was a long, straight crack down multiple cement blocks and I walked with the crack between my feet, I would get zero points per step, as opposed to the average of two, so I would lower my average pretty fast. Those long cracks were the best. I smile now at how much joy I was able to get from something so simple.
So there was young H., veering around the sidewalk in order to step over as many cracks as possible, taking extra long steps in order to avoid getting more than two step-points before the next crack, or to get fewer than two if I was lucky. Heck, I find myself doing it even now, sometimes. Out of nostalgia, perhaps, or maybe it’s some kind of latent OCD behaviour. It’s such a weird, irrational thing to do. Why did I do it? Why do I still do it? I honestly have no answer. Maybe it’s just a way of keeping my mind quiet.
I never kept track of my average or anything. Not even on a single walk to school. I imagined there was some universal tally being kept. I always wondered what the score was.
I still do.