One Year of Walking It Off
Let's go for another pondering stroll with Zorra, the fox/cat/bear.
I want to start with this view.
Which is the view from this chair.
I don’t know who put the chair in the field, but every time I sit here I say a few quiet words of thanks to that stranger, whom I’ve never met.
I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude lately.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about butter.
Last week in New York City I was out for a walk with Zorra and popped by my local bodega to ask if they sold butter. They didn’t—there’s a high school nearby and the bodega is mainly a sugar dispensary that also sells sandwiches and a menagerie of household supplies—so I figured I’d have to return Zorra home and go to the grocery store. But then the man behind the counter, a stranger, asked how much I needed and sent me on my way with a plastic cup full of butter from the deli case. No charge. I tweeted about the stranger’s kindness, and then came home, where the butter was used to make a delicious, family-style dinner for a lovely group of friends.
I had put my phone down for the dinner, so was unaware that the tweet was on its way to becoming one of my most liked tweets of all time. Nor was I aware that some people were becoming confused by the tweet—or even enraged by the tweet—with certain conservative talking heads using the tweet as an example that New York City is a devastated wasteland with no resources to be found anywhere, including butter.
The dinner with my friends, on the other hand, was very, very good.
I have a memoir coming out in July titled Dirtbag, Massachusetts. Some very talented people have said some extremely kind things about it, and I have received some lovely early reviews.
But I’ve also been thinking about how, when you make something, you put it into the world and then it no longer belongs to you. You have no control over what comes next. People will react to it however they see fit. Use it in ways you may not even be able to comprehend. Much like a tweet about butter.
Last year I interviewed author Jocelyn Nicole Johnson for The New York Times, and I keep coming back to something she said when I asked her if she was nervous about her book, My Monticello, being in the world. Johnson—who was a public school art teacher for 20 years—told me, “As an art teacher I can tell myself the kind of things that I would absolutely tell my students. You made something, but it’s not you.”
I’m doing my best to carry that quote with me these days.
I mention Dirtbag, Massachusetts because I want to share that in the coming months—with the book’s release date approaching—Walk It Off will be publishing at a slightly slower pace. We’ve been walking together for a year and a few days, now. It’s been such a gift to watch this amazing community grow over these past several months. Our little walking group brings me so much joy—the weekly community threads (and those will remain weekly) simply fill my heart. I love it when y’all take the time to tell me your stories. And I will always enjoy exploring new places, and walking and talking with people I admire. So everything is going to remain the same.
Again, simply at a slightly slower pace.
I will also continue to keep Walk It Off free. With that said, every single paid subscription helps me so, so much. It’s both a way of supporting Walk It Off and the community we’ve built here, but also a way of supporting me as a writer in general. That said, with the new pace of Walk It Off, I wanted to offer new subscription rates (while keeping with our socks/beer/sandwiches rating system).
$5 a month (socks) 🧦
$50 for 1 year (beer) 🍺
$150 for 1 year (sandwiches) 🥪
If these new levels are affordable to you, and you have yet to become a supporting member of Walk It Off, please know that your signing up now would mean the absolute world to me.
Again, I am filled with gratitude.
The walk we’re on, by the way, is through a forest in Riverhead, NY, where Zorra and I ran with some deer late last year. While exploring the woods this time around we stumbled upon a 4-H Summer Camp—closed for the off season—where we came across a sign that read “Beach Trail,” and then discovered a long, tall wooden walkway.
The simple pleasure of setting off into the unknown and then discovering something you’ve never seen before. Like the chair in the field, I do not know who built this walkway or when, but I am grateful to those who did.
I am also grateful to all of you for a year (and a few days) of Walk It Off. I’ve been so lucky to discover so many delights and walk with so many incredible people this past year. (If you’re new here, I highly recommend taking a stroll though the archives, you won’t be disappointed.) We’ve got some great walks coming up, and I’m excited to share them with you. But for today, I’m going to put my phone down and lie down on the beach at the end of this walkway.
Zorra’s going to join me, and together we’re going to bask in the spring sunshine and simply be. But don’t worry, we’ll be back on our feet tomorrow. Ready to walk.
See ya then. ❤️
In a fit of stupid I somehow didn't get that you and the butter guy on twitter were the same person and my gosh the replies to you ranged from the lovely to the deranged.
Love your latest walk with Zorra, especially the pic of the two of you on the beach. (Cool shoes BTW). Your walks and the fascinating people that you invite to join you connect me here in Africa to you a long way away in New York. Would love to read your upcoming memoir - any chance of a Kindle version for those far away? Somehow it makes me think of Tender Bar, which I read and loved years ago - I always said it would make a great movie, and it has. Dirtbag could be next! (although I think you're more of a Mensch)