Weird Walk

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

August 10, 2010 -- 1:30 a.m.

I have found the secret to getting agents to ask for partials: Go on vacation. If you are in a place where you cannot access your novel, badda-bing, the requests come in.

I dreamed last night I enrolled in a school of ninjas. I fought evil. It was awesome.

I had a weird experience I thought I would write down. I was walking up from the MAX (Portland's metro) to the house of the friend I'm staying with and I managed to get completely turned around. I wasn't thinking about my surroundings because a) of above partial request b) I don't have any sense of direction. By the time I figured out I was lost, I saw a familiar landmark and thought I knew the direction I should go in. Only then it turned out I didn't and, in trying to get out, I landed smack dab in the middle of a set of gated communities and couldn't get out.

Anyone who knows me knows I'll do this. I get lost walking across a street. Ask me how many debate rounds I missed because I got lost. Actually don't ask, because it's happened so often, I stopped keeping track.

It's after midnight. I've walked two miles. I'm a little annoyed at myself, but not particularly worried. Every street I go down ends in another frickin gated community. I go toward an apartment complex downhill figuring the apartments will open out onto a main road and I can find my way back to the MAX station and try again. Unfortunately, there are some twenty buildings, and I pick the wrong direction and find myself wandering from stairwell to stairwell staring up at six-story complexes.

My cell phone got no reception up there, but I managed to find a few bars in the middle of a park, with the sprinklers attacking me full blast. I call my friend, but the reception gives out, though not before my friend gives me a general idea that I should go downhill.

Anyway, I find some girls out on the porch of their apartment and ask for directions. They cannot believe I walked up the hill. It's just a hill, but they make it sound like Mount Everest. They are freaked out and certain I am on drugs. They offer to let me call my friend but my phone has reception again so I do it myself. He's got mapquest up and can give me directions, all I need is the address and a point out of the complex.

Except they cannot believe that I can walk my way home alone in the dark. They are certain that muggers are going to find me and get me. I roll my eyes and point to the fact we're surrounded by mini-mansions and there are like two streetlamps to every house. This isn't downtown Portland. This is suburbia central. How many muggers would be waiting to jump out at pedestrians at midnight on a Monday anyway? Those would be some pretty bored muggers, since I hadn't seen a single pedestrian for an hour. No victims = no muggers.

The kicker--the women don't know their own address OR how to use mapquest. Who lives in that kind of neighborhood and doesn't know how to use mapquest? She kept saying my address was turning up the map to Arizona but that was because her DEFAULT STARTING LOCATION was in Arizona and she didn't know she needed to change it. She thought it was because the address I'd given her was a lie and I was casing her apartment for a burglary or something.

Anyway, they eventually talked my friend into coming out to get me, which I feel horrible about because it's midnight and seriously, I can walk fine, I just need to know where to walk, but he is very nice and comes and the girls wait with me to make sure I'm not kidnapped by all the horrible muggers out on the streets.

It was very strange because they kept asking me my age, if I was sober and "why did you walk up that hill" -- repeating the same questions five or six times. I wonder why they thought my answer would be different, if the fifth time I would say, "Ooh, your clever tactic of asking the same question over and over again has led me to confess that I'm actually on heroin!"

I tried explaining that I knew my friends lived on a hill so I walked up the hill thinking it was the right hill but that seemed an unsatisfactory answer. At least one of the girls was mentally challenged, I believe. She took the book I was carrying from me (Janny Wurts' Traitor's Knot) and started reading it aloud. It was very strange. I felt like I had wandered into a Kafka book. The girl told me I'd inspired her to read Tale of Two Cities.

It turned out I was on the wrong hill--the one next to it was the right one. So all it took to get back to where I should have been was a five minute drive, and probably a fifteen minute walk. I should be grateful that the women were trying to look after me, but I was left feeling bemused. The whole time, they were so afraid of me. Only one of them would talk to me at first. The rest dashed inside their apartment, beset with terror. Of a 5' 4", 120 pound girl who has arms like spaghetti noodles. I suppose I could have been packing a gun. They mentioned some kind of security at the apartment, though I didn't see any.

It's good to know that I'm not the worst victim of suburbanite's terror out there. I am grateful to them for their help. It took bravery to overcome their fear of me, even if it was...somewhat misplaced.


  1. Lee Ann Setzer said...

    Wow. I read the Portland experience as a dream the first time, and was trying to figure out the imagery. Surreal.

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