Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Girl in the Che Guevara T-Shirt

I walk, therefore I am.

Monday mornings I'm very much me, as on Monday mornings I take my constitutional lap of the Tan with my friend Gloria. It's actually a bit more than a lap of the Tan. I start out from my place, meet Gloria somewhere around the top of Anderson Street forty minutes later, do the lap, go for a coffee, then set off to get my mail in the city and walk home. It's about a 15 kilometre journey and takes me about three hours including the coffee.

Once a long distance runner, always a long distance runner - or in my case, walker as my knee, though healing, is still not up for anything more that the odd minute interval.

This three hour schlep around town has me pondering the joys of Melbourne. The small rituals that come into the walk have to be done. Maybe it's a small dose of OCD, maybe it's just the joys of repetition, but there are a number of things that have to be done on my Monday morning to make my day feel complete.

First up, the dressing ritual. The heart rate monitor chest strap is snapped on under the bra. The clothing is normally a pair of jeans or leggings and my very old, very well loved, not quite opaque Che Guevara t-shirt. I've had this shirt since London and it's my walking t-shirt. It's supposed to say leave me alone - I'm angsty and tough and not worth meddling with (particularly as it's a fan t-shirt for the band Rage Against the Machine.) I slap on sunscreen, sunglasses and find my well-loved, shady wombat hat. Lastly, the trainers, my trusty ASICS, are shoved on my feet, my bag, containing my wallet, phone, a bottle of water is grabbed, then I'm off.

Things that need to be done on this walk - jaywalk across Highett Street - the lights take ages. Must check out what the reservoir levels are doing at the corner of Swan and Punt. As I've just discovered, there are footy players normally running around, shirt or sans shirt, at Gosch's Paddock. The sunglasses give a clear perv without being too obvious.

As I'm normally running about five minutes late, and Gloria has a habit of arriving early, we meet somewhere near the top of Anderson Street to start our clockwise circumnavigation of the Botanical Gardens. This is our opportunity to put the world to rights. We discuss the weekend, what people are up to, how Gloria's partner, Gaynor, is doing, what stupid exercises I got up to on the weekend, how our concurrent job hunting is going, what's going on at dream group/meditation and of course, commenting on every dog that is being dragged around the circuit by their fitness freak master.

After a lap, it's into the Tan coffee shop where Gloria has her standard issue latte and I partake in my normal mug of skinny cappuccino. We sit down for about twenty minutes, after which we struggle to our legs - nicely stiffened by the stationary time.

Gloria and I say goodbye and I make my way around the Tan and into the city. The little rituals continue. One must pass Flinders Street Station and look at the crap food I no longer eat - I never knew that donuts could make me feel nauseous. I used to love them. It's then down Degraves Street to check out the Florentine Paper shop and look at the coffee drinking class linger over their macchiatos and paninis. Through Centre Lane with it's clothes and exotic smells and across to Australia on Collins where it's straight through to the Royal Arcade.

Finding a silver coin in my bag its into the Spellbox to spin the wheel. Spellbox you ask? Well, it's my motherland - a mystical and witchcraft shop, at the back of which is a pinwheel. You put five cents in the box and spin the wheel and it gives you your reading for the day - based on the major arcana of the tarot. It's a ritual for me - and the Spellbox is a haven when I'm in the city - a chance to get my energies back - and let my inner witch out for five minutes.

After Spellbox, it's across the road to collect the mail from my post office box. As I've always lived on busy thoroughfares, I've always kept a post office box for mail. It's great - your parcels are collected, your letters stay dry, nobody knicks stuff (which living in a place where there is a bit of housing commission around does happen now and then) and it helps stop identity theft.

Once that is done, it's the four kilometre walk home - often stopping to say hi to Tom at the old work coffee shop or straying for a quick chat with whoever is passing that I've known from former lives.

Yesterday's walk home was broken up by a conversation with a charity tout. It used to be that you could walk down the street unhindered - now I tend to avoid anybody with a clip board for fear of getting what ever sob story that comes my way. Don't get me wrong - charities do amazing work. I give monthly to Medicins sans Frontiers and the Fred Hollows Foundation. I'd like to give more, but under the current circumstances, I'm not in the position to do so. I also sort of resent being nabbed in the street by people. My normal excuse to get out of conversation with them is "I'm on my way to a meeting and I'm late." That gets rid of them. Unfortunately, when you're in a Che Guevara t-shirt and wombat hat, you can't get away with that.

So, yesterday, Mr Greenpeace, resplendent in a slightly dirty mustard coloured t-shirt, birkenstocks and dreadies stops me in the street. He had an earnest smile. Bless.

"I'll stop you now," I said as he approached me with his clipboard.
"You know who we are?"
"Of course. I already give you money." This is not a lie - I'll throw $20 in Greenpeace's direction when I'm flush.
"Well that is very good of you, thank you." said Birkenstock Boy. He thrust a hand in my direction. Dirty nails. Eww.

I took it and shook it as he pulled me in for a hug.

Joy, dreadie, hairy mungbeaner, hippy hug.

Che is supposed to protect me from this sort of thing!

I extracted myself from the arms of the hairy mungbeaner and walked on, mumbling something about the great work Greenpeace do. Albert Street and the three kilometre walk home awaited.

More rituals - searching out the Rainbow Lorikeets along Parliament gardens, pondering the dogs in Fitzroy Gardens, resisting the urge to lie on the grass in the park, thinking that there has to be an alternative for all drivers to Punt Road - busy at all hours of the day and night. Then of course there's the hunt for the police cars at the commission tower blocks and sending out a roving eye for stray firemen.

Once home, I'm on the floor for a good stretch, a large glass of water, then its off for a shower to start the day proper.

The job will come - but I'm really enjoying the blessings of having this time to be able to do the Monday morning consititutional. I'll miss it when I'm working.

Project Pandora Update Day 2

Did my fitness test tonight. Ran a kilometre on the treadmill as I'm not really supposed to be running and at least it's a sprung track which will protect the knee a bit. Made the kilometre in 6 minutes 33 seconds - gobsmacked and thrilled! for somebody who hasn't run  for six months it was FANTASTIC. 42 pushups from my knees in a minute, over two minutes in the wall sit and level 3 sit ups, I'm a happy Pand - the workouts are paying dividends. First weigh in tomorrow morning.


River said...

15kms!! Well done. Do you walk on other days too? I've got to the point where I can now do a 3km walk with ease, as long as the heel pain holds off. I like your rituals, it's a good way to tick off the miles.

Elisabeth said...

What a walk Pand, not just a walk, a veritable journey. I, too, hate my intentions on foot to be intercepted by strangers who want to chat or beg. It seems more and more endemic these days.

Pandora Behr said...

Yes River, I walk most days - normally around 5-8 kilometres as a part of any given day. Glad to hear you're getting back into walking. I'm lost without it.

The "Charity Pimps" are everywhere. With so much competition and no money about it is hard for them, but it would be nice to eat dinner without a phone call or two.

Jackie K said...

Jealous! Your Mondays are SO much better than mine!

Kath Lockett said...

I'm so impressed with 15km 'walk' and how your knee has pulled up that I read most of this entry with my mouth wide open like an Andrew Bolt believer.

Well done!