Walking Toward Nostalgia


The peak of my physical fitness was at the end of the seven-month hike of the Appalachian Trail when I returned in the shape of an Olympic athlete. That was all the way back in 2005. Since then it has all been downhill as I have been continuously battling a weight problem. As a child, I looked down at overweight adults and wondered how they could let themselves go like that. Did they just consume copious bags of potato chips in front of the TV all day long? But as a much-wiser, humbled adult I understand that it certainly does not take much to have a weight problem. It may just take an extra donut a week or a relentless work schedule where one’s favorite foods seem to keep our spirits flowing until Friday afternoon.

As I have said in the past, enough is enough. Time to make a change and stop making excuses. Creativity has been employed to succeed as a published author and now maybe it is time to use that same eccentric genius to solve this problem. The Appalachian Trail was twelve years ago, and something propelled me to hike all day long in the most remote areas of the woods without proper plumbing or any amenities besides what was carried in the enormous pack. The times when the Appalachian Trail took us through a town flush with convenience stores and soda machines seemed like a vacation. I would have been tempted to chew glass if the damn trail went through these towns all the time instead of through the unrelenting mountains. I hiked nearly every day knowing that one day there would be nothing left and could finally justify leaving the burden of walking every day, but there would be closure! Now my fantasies have come true and am finally surrounded by civilization. So why can’t I hold onto those yearnings from those hiking days of yore and yesterday? Sometimes I feel a sense of shame especially due to the chastising of the late and great, Christopher Reeve who stated that he has little patience for people who are able-bodied, but are disabled for other reasons. But people on the autism spectrum are often motivated by what is familiar. On that note, my heart skipped a beat upon learning that one of my favorite childhood movies, Edward Scissorhands was playing at a local theatre near the College of Saint Rose where the College Experience is located.

One of these days, I am hoping the students in my program will realize how good they have it to be able to live so very close to all these amenities such as Market 32 and the Madison Theatre. In Pleasant Valley the nearest movie theatre was a twenty-five minute drive to the Galleria Mall. The nearest theatre in my area is probably at least a half-hour walk to Crossgates Mall, but the Madison Theatre is six miles away and approximately a two-hour walk. But this time there was actually something to walk toward…something so nostalgic and beautiful.

Even though I was smart enough to leave the apartment with proper winter garments, I was not prepared for how bitterly cold it would actually be on Friday night. It would have made the walk easier if I had worn sweat pants underneath the regular pants. There was the temptation to turn back but it eventually became evident that this would just be one of many excuses on the table when I had made a promise to accomplish this goal all week. Eventually the cold stopped feeling like a knife against my unprepared legs about an hour into the walk. The two hours seemed like an eternity and eventually my cell phone stopped working because of the cold in addition to my CD/Radio Player. Thanks to a portable battery charger, sustenance eventually came back to the cell phone. Landmarks that I normally would not have noticed on the daily rides to my program cried out with their inanimate excitement.

“Attitude Determines Altitude.”

The cold is not comfortable, but there are benefits that cannot be ignored. There is not a mosquito in sight. There are also no ticks, Lyme Disease, yellow jackets, and a physical ailment known as Swamp Ass that commonly occurs after vigorous exercise in humid conditions. The coldness is an incentive to keep going and keep that internal furnace burning. And the greatest attitude of all is how the genius of Tim Burton beckoned.

Eventually the walk came to an end and victory was an entitlement not at the mercy of an outside party with its free will to say “yes or no.” Edward Scissorhands tells the story of a man with an unusual disability and unusual talents. It was a movie that I have seen a millions times but it was much different this time around because it was earned and not a source of immediate, albeit empty, gratification. My understanding girlfriend was kind enough to drive me home and see the movie with me. It was the perfect start to the weekend and a feeling that greater changes may occur to reverse the consistent cycle of weight gain.

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