Action Jackson Adventures

by

Today I decided to go exploring. I packed a backpack with the following items:

  • lunch: a tuna sandwich, a sliced apple, and a pack of six crackers,
  • a nalgene-style bottle of water,
  • my Bible,
  • The Rejection Collection (an anthology of cartoons that were rejected by The New Yorker), and
  • my cell phone.

I set out at 11:40 AM, with a 7-ounce Fla-vor-ice pop in hand, and began walking.

My walk took me through Landen Deerfield Park, where I threw away the wrapper from my Fla-vor-ice pop, availed myself of the public restrooms, and refilled my water bottle at the water fountain. It was about 12:30 by the time I made it to the edge of the park, so I sat down and took out my tuna sandwich. While I ate, I read the first chapter of Romans. I thought about the fact that some people would disagree with it.

I figured I’d hike down to the Little Miami River, where maybe I could find the edge of my familiar world and explore new frontiers. However, the road work going on meant I had to backtrack a little ways to the park entrance to cross Montgomery Road. I took a side road from there and began walking downhill toward the river. Davis Road, an unfamiliar place, hooked back sharply to the right about halfway down the hill, so I took it and started walking.

For awhile, Davis Road was mostly trees on either side and the river beyond the trees to my left. After a little while, though, I came to my first sign of human presence: a dilapidated one-story shack with the roof sagging and faded white paint on the weathered wooden walls. The trees around it were overgrown, encroaching on it, and further back among the trees I spotted a shed. There was no driveway to the house. I wondered if anyone lived in it.

A short distance down the road I noticed a driveway leading to a much sturdier house, and figured that maybe all these buildings were on the same property.

From there, the houses became more frequent. Some of them were crowded together in clusters and shared a single driveway, with three or four mailboxes lined up alongside the road. Some had chain link fences, and some had yards full of stuff. One had a shed with motorbikes and ATVs lined up by it. I had to pee again, so I figured I’d best take care of business before the dwellings became too frequent. I crawled down an embankment away from the road and relieved myself behind a log.

At around 1:30, I spotted the top of a wooden stairway on the left side of the road. I followed it down, where it led to a 10’x10′ wooden platform halfway down the riverbank, overlooking the Little Miami from among the trees. I was hungry again at this point, so I took out my apple slices and had a seat in one of the two white plastic chairs on the deck.

So I looked out at the river and relaxed. In the past sometimes I’ve felt like time is my enemy, oppressing me with the passage of every second, like I was trapped in time and trapped in my mind and couldn’t stop thinking. Today I felt fine. Despite being unemployed and irresponsible, I could stop to sit and relax, look at the river, look at the trees, think. Eat apple slices. I asked God if he was there, and he said yes. I asked how I knew he was actually there. He told me that all the water and trees and stuff had to come from somewhere. They obey scientific laws and interact as part of a self-regulating ecological system, and order like that doesn’t just happen, not without being designed. This was a good enough answer for me, so I ate my apples and hung out with God for awhile before getting back on the road.

A little way down the road, I came to a bend with a dog. Upon seeing me, the dog, a golden retriever, began barking and walking toward me. I said some things to it by way of introduction and offered my hand for it to sniff and lick and meet, but it kept barking. It had a deep and solid bark, a real “woof,” steady and regular like the ticking of a clock. And it kept standing in front of me woofing and refusing to lick my hand, in a vaguely territorial and potentially hostile manner, so I turned around and walked back the way I came. This seemed to pacify the dog, which let out a few more sporadic woofs as it watched me depart.

But no way was I gonna let a territorial dog halt my exploration of Davis Road. I went back to the platform, finished reading the cartoons in The Rejection Collection, and crossed to the other side of the road. The dog was gone from its former spot, but up ahead I found it again, standing across the road from me in front of a house, barking. The dog did not cross. A pickup truck drove between us. I walked on.

Eventually the road started heading uphill, away from the river. I had long since finished my water bottle, and in the heat of the day, marching uphill was solid work. Sweat pooled in the small of my back and soaked my shirttail through. My watch said something like 2:10 for the time, and it seemed like a good time to start looking for a way home; from my sense of its direction, I figured Davis Road had to meet up with Montgomery sometime. However, at the top of the hill, it intersected a street named Primrose, and I could see Davis stretching on for a while between a woods and a vacant-looking field. I turned left onto Primrose, maintaining a vague sense of where I should be headed.

From there I got lost in suburbia for awhile.

I was clearly ambling through some sort of residential area or subdivision, with slightly “nicer” houses on average than those down by the river on Davis Road. I snacked on my crackers as I walked, seeing ladies get their mail and vehicles pass me on the sidewalkless streets. Early on, a semi truck turned a corner behind me, and I stepped off the road to let him pass. Roads like these were not exactly easy for a rig with a trailer to navigate. At one point I passed a Baptist church, and I considered going in to refill my water bottle. But instead I walked on through the parking lot.

Eventually I noticed that the streets were all named for flowers, and I remembered that in my friend Joe’s neighborhood back in junior high, all the streets had been named for flowers. One perpendicular road was named “Poppy,” which sounded–and looked–familiar. I walked down the street, and sure enough, there was Joe’s old house. A landmark! I believe Joe lives in downtown Cincinnati now, but without even knowing it, he had given a hand to his old buddy Jackson. Good man, Joe.

From Joe’s house it was easy to find Montgomery Road and follow it home. Before I got home, I passed two more churches. I thought about how Christopher Hitchens would probably be disappointed to know this, and how he would probably prefer that this be a nation where I would pass zero churches in my exploratory expeditions rather than three. But Christopher Hitchens is a civil human being who is not going to burn these buildings down or anything, and instead exercises his first-amendment right to express his dislike for such buildings and what they stand for. I was glad to live in a world where I pass by three churches while exploring, and also glad to live in a world where people are free to write books against them if they wish.

So. Today I explored. Exploration is where you expand the frontiers of your known world, by stepping out into the unknown and knowing it. I learned some things today by exploring, and perhaps you have learned some things too by reading the account of my exploration, which I hope you have enjoyed. But as you know, if you too have ever explored, you can often learn more from exploring than by reading someone else’s account.

When was the last time you explored? What did you explore? What did you learn from your exploration? Let’s talk about you.

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3 Responses to “Action Jackson Adventures”

  1. annoying Says:

    Ah, exploration. It’s been awhile since I did that. The first thing that comes to mind for me is when I was in college. It was a small town; so small it was almost impossible to get lost there. Although, my freshman year I almost did get “lost”. I was walking with someone whom I would have called a friend at the time. She had grown up in the town, and knew it well. We were wandering around, and I wasn’t paying attention to where we were going. It started getting late, so I’d said something about getting back to campus. She threatened to leave me where I was, and make me find my own way back. I don’t remember why she did this now, but at the time it was scary. But only for a little while. I quickly realized that I could find my way back if I had to, just walk until I found something familiar and use that to guide me “home”. And if I didn’t find anything familiar before I hit the edge of town I could turn around and try again. In the years after that I would wander the town with little fear of getting lost; but I generally ended up going the the cemetery north of town. It was peaceful there, and a nice distance to walk and think.

  2. deathbychiasmus Says:

    It’s good to have a thinking place, where you can walk to when you need a change of scenery. Sometimes it’s good to have more than one. Thanks for sharing about your explorations and your places, Annoying! Man it feels really weird to call you that.

  3. annoying Says:

    Yeah, it was nice while I was at college, but since I’ve graduated I haven’t found a new place to go and think.

    I know it’s gotta be weird to talk to someone called “annoying”. The first time someone responded to it I realized that it had to be difficult for them because no one wants to talk to an “annoying” person (but I also thought it was kinda funny that they did). I’ve offered to use one of my other names and been told not to worry about it. If you can think of a shortened form, go ahead and use it (the only one I can think of is ‘Ann’ (or ‘Annie’ or other derivatives)). As long as I know you’re talking to me I probably won’t be too annoyed by it. If I really don’t like it I’ll let you know, but you may be able to come up with something that wouldn’t occur to me that would be a perfect shortened form. One of my other names was shortened in a way I never imagined but I really like it.

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