Pacing at 8 pm on a Sunday night. Pacing at 70 years of age. Where does this lion-in-a-zoo restlessness come from? Why can’t I lie down and murmur into the deep vacuum that surrounds me?
Only caged animals pace. I pace standing still. I paced as a wallflower in school before I came off the wall swinging. The only time I’m not pacing is when I’m moving, setting pins in a bowling alley, dancing non-stop all night, running.
I ran everywhere when I was a kid, back when I was a wallflower, so that when the gym coach said go, I went. Jesus did I go, I left the whole 8th grade class in my dust and got the gym coach got so excited he almost wet his pants, he thought he’d unearthed a talent, he thought I was going to rocket into fame and fortune with his name dangling from my big toe.
I paced myself into a ’49 Ford convertible loaded down with beer and hoodlums, I greased my hair into a D.A., fell in with a tough crowd, and we paced our way into blackouts and getting thrown out of school. We paced down the blacktop at 90 mph far past the midnight hour, and the cage we paced in grew smaller each day, each week, each year.
Most pacers don’t last as long as I have, and if they do, something snaps in them and they lie down on the urine-stained concrete floor of their cage and children throw junk at them through the bars. They never move, their eyes glazed, and these are the ones that make me pace even harder, these are the ones that bring home the horror.
There’s no alternative in a caged-in world, no other way to keep the connection to what you’ve always sensed is out there, a place with no cages, no bars, no other way to hold your head high in a shrinking world without killing someone.