Still Alive

by jkatejohnston

23 November 2015

Dear Max,

A few mornings ago I was walking Colin and listening to a story on This American Life about a New York City bus driver who one day up and drove his bus to Florida. The idea made me laugh with happiness. And I decided to take Colin on a different route entirely. We would not turn right on Franklin, right again on Marshall, right on 24th and so home. No! We would walk straight up 26th and go around the park! Hurrah! I was still alive!

But Colin wanted to go on his usual route. I think he has relationships with dogs we’ve never met who visit the same bushes he does. Also there’s one stretch of Franklin where he really likes to poop. I took a few steps up 26th toward the park, and Colin looked at me with those worried eyes and pulled toward Franklin. Oh, all right. But we would still depart from the route later, after the poop.

The radio story went on. They interviewed the adult son of the bus driver, who’d been twelve when his dad took off. The son didn’t approve of the stunt at all. His dad never called home, and afterwards, he never apologized. And when it was all happening, the son didn’t know that his father would end up a folk hero and not a criminal. In other words, the son experienced the event, not the story.

Meanwhile Colin had pooped, right where he usually does, near a trash can on Franklin, which is another reason I like the regular route—I can throw the poop bag out right away. And I realized that, having come all the way to Franklin, if I took Colin around the park now, I’d be late for work. So we just went home the usual way.

I love routine. That’s what the decision-free life is all about. But there’s something enlivening about departing from routine, or even thinking about departing from it.


Here’s a link to the radio show.