5 Strolls that May or May Not Shape the Stories You’ll Tell

by a contributor

from Fred MacVaugh, author of The Wake:

  1. Anywhere with your father at least once. In my case, beneath summer-green trees beside Valley Forge National Historical Park’s airfield buzzing with nattering hobbyists and their radio-controlled model airplanes. You never know what your father might say, what memorable nonsense might pass between you as men twice his age pilot a red biplane and German Messerschmitt. Years later, on his birthday, you’ll remember his words, his last before you leave for college, before his sudden heart attack and death.
  2. Down the aisle with the one who agrees to walk with you through life.
  3. As far underground as you can go even when tight and dark spaces scare you to death. If you’re lucky, you’ll not be alone, and the ones with you in Spider Cave will come to your aid and persuade you to stay even as your heart jackhammers your sternum and all you can think of is clawing your way to the surface, to sunlight and soothing views of cloud-shadow crossing a panoramic desert more or less the same as when Mescalero Apache, Buffalo Soldiers, and nineteenth-century cattle drovers passed by an undiscovered beauty hidden within a Permian-aged sea-reef remnant.
  4. Through the inside of your mind, the most mysterious place you’ll ever be.
  5. Through the unforeseen icon, the Engine of Life, that giant, tunneled heart beating for decades at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute. You were five and terrified, scared to death even then, but your father egged you on, said he’d be there always, waiting for you to emerge.