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A long walk off a short pier

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Focus on your foot – the right one, not your left. Good, okay, what is it touching? Where is the pressure? Is it bare or packed into a sock, a shoe? Focus entirely on your right foot, really become aware of the sensation of having a right foot. Hold that focus, this should only take a minute. 

How does one find presence in a race? I’ve seen where a lack of awareness, of the self, of those around you, of the world, can get someone. Someone so desperate to confirm their own worldview, their fears, that they cannot truly see those they profess to love. Lonely and old, in a cave, babbling to themselves in a language only they speak, only they care about. If that. 

And what do you do when you can’t find solace in yourself? You stay up waiting, looking for answers in the clouds of dawn. Sometimes you pray for a sign, even if you don’t believe in God – your hyper-vigilance will tap three times and confirm your fears. It’s easier this way, to be so addicted to suffering that you’ll white-knuckle every single breath, trying to mold a world if you can. 

Angel numbers are these novel little tools, a sign of the times really. They’re this new-age offshoot of numerology, a series of repeating numbers naturally found in the field with a divine message intended only for you. At a loss for direction? 777. What does that mean? The definition depends on the blog you pick when it’s 5:55 PM and you search ‘555 angel number meaning’, but ultimately – whatever you want. You choose the message of the angels, whatever you need to hear. Build-a-watchword; American grace. 

I don’t really buy in, but ironically, and now compulsively, I check license plates. I check numbers, receipts, phone numbers, and unconsciously, too. Some numbers wink and dazzle and confirm. A mirror of the mind itself. Let these little digits be the anchor for our experiment in awareness – a walk north as long as we can, one foot after the other, this breath then that. I note when I see the numbers, the wh- details, as any writer worth a lick would. 

The rules are simple: no music, no destination, walk until I can’t anymore, speak when or if spoken to, pay attention, this breath, that breath. Writing, working, fucking, spending, put it all away. I’m walking until I feel nothing. So, just maybe – if I let myself, I can feel everything and anything. I just want to feel aware, in control. 

111. Drop in at 2020 Taylor Ave N, Queen Anne. We’ve been walking some time now, but only our first mile. Two-something in the afternoon and the weather is just absolutely ripe. I watch two teenagers slow into a million dollar home with shopping bags, and is that envy I feel? No, it’s more just a recognition of something far from myself. 

An immediate look to my right and there’s a Ford Fiesta parked outside, empty KFC cardboard in the cloth passenger seat. 

222. Witnessed even earlier on the back of some dumpster at an apartment eerily similar to the one I almost rented when I moved to Seattle. I climb a staircase rendered cool from the canopy, I practice someone’s daily walk home. As a child, that was my least favorite part, knowing that the spectacle was over, we are back home now, and there is nothing new. It’s very hard to be still. 

333. I first and singularly see 333 on this cast-iron mailbox outside a gated mansion, it interrupted my wondering on how I’d get home. This number is almost too intimate to speak of on a public forum. I continue walking to a fork, and tails is left, so I veer down a hill and off into this brush. Have you ever heard of desire paths? They’re these little paths that wear into the earth, human traffic erodes them into the soil. I’m following one further into the Queen Anne greenbelt, or I think I am – why does a path lead off a cliff? 

I turn around. I want a cigarette.

444. A number on a little library in Phinney Ridge, noon sun has been swallowed by dusk. Considered to be a number of foundation and strength in construction, as told to me by a man with the highest cheekbones I’ve ever seen, when asked for his two cents. 

Movement isn’t mute. There isn’t any thought, just pushing forward, a body, like a prayer. At my apartment complex in Arkansas, Indian men in their turbans would walk silently with each other. My mother explained it was walking meditation. A conscious practice of something we take for granted, such an intimate understanding of their home. Do you think it’s possible that there’s always deeper new layers of something we see everyday – our home? Could we be somewhere so long that we become blind to it? 

555. And I know this isn’t where the action is, quiet afternoon mansions, so I push through that green belt. Silver eyes are spray painted on trees. Anything could be ahead, anyone could be behind. 

“Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I never wanted another.” This quote from “Apocalypse Now” (1979) loops singularly through my mind as a walk. If only because I’m moving through a forest of tinfoil scraps and choosing to believe that rabbits have footsteps that heavy. If only because Captain Willard speaks a truth, the fatalistic determinism that we have already set ourselves up, the cards are dealt and we just live to see them played. I’m staring at a Snickers wrapper. 

A pitcher of liquid.
Victoria Winter A pitcher of liquid.

666. N 63rd and Phinney. There’s nothing to be had, no destination, and we started with that in mind. I sit on porch-steps that lead to some house-turned-investment? insurance? office. I sit there, chin on knee, so long that people walk by and then walk back on by with grocery bags. There’s some glass pitcher of this lime-like rain water. It reminds me of a home that I would like to have, so I sit. And I try to breathe until my mind goes clear. It becomes apparent to me that this is active, you have to make sight a hobby of yours. Every day, you walk, you see, you sleep. There is no remedy for something you must choose everyday. 

777. N 50th & Fremont. I want a bathroom. 

Let yourself be swallowed! Embrace oblivion! A woman passes me on a crosswalk, I catch one sentence meant for her cellphone, “So, don’t worry about me -”. 

Witnessed in the courtyard of an apartment building.
Witnessed in the courtyard of an apartment building.
Victoria Winter

888. Looking over my shoulder, marching north on Aurora Ave N. This isn’t the first time I’ve been facing opposite of the highway rush. Before long, you just submit, like the ocean; it all just becomes noise. I am less conscious of waves of exhaust and more so fear, well placed or not. 

A thick-necked man gives me a triple take only because I refuse to look away. His gold chain droops forward as he leans under the hood of a car, 888 on the plate. This is supposed to be a solidly good number, completion and fortune, but it strikes me as ominous. Forward. The closer to the bridge, the safer I feel, and as I cut the precipice another 888 passes me. It is both. It is whatever I choose to see. Whatever I let myself see in the moment. Same difference. 

Is awareness the slow key to seeing other sides than my own? 

What is the attachment to ideas of myself? Dead weight. 

Can you see it?
Can you see it?
Victoria Winter

999. And when I start scream-humming to hear something other than the highway roar, I seek refuge in the residential. I have been walking for hours. Whittier heights. I avoid the streets that I cannot sit in. Archaic self-care. There is a clicking in the ankle of my left foot. Limits, that’s what we’ll dedicate this number to. They change everyday, based on what you are, what decisions we’ve made.

1111. I saw this crispy little digit right as I was thinking about her. 1111. I was born at this time. I find her against the American flag and a Gulf of Mexico blue. The sun was still out and we were just off Aurora. Just as I’m imagining her, I look to stare her straight in the eye. This speaks to intentionality. Do I believe in any of what I’ve said? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t think that’s relevant, in fact. We all possess tools that make us feel tight on the reins, stories that we have created to exist under, because we need them. Perhaps that’s more romantic than if this was real. There is an elegance to desperation, something human and soft.

Keep your eyes level with the horizon and stay on the path, it is always right here. We’re never too far from where angels tread. Isn’t it best to be here, just right here? Victor L. Frankl once said, in “Man’s Search for Meaning”, if you’ll allow me to paraphrase, that we can only grasp the innermost core of a person through love. I’ll concede that I fortunately don’t have all the answers, and maybe love is blind. But through pure love of right now, can we finally see? 

All things fall and are built again. It’s practice. This is our gift and our curse. 

And if I may ask – can you still feel your foot? 

Victoria Winter is trying to prove that nothing human is alien to us. On paper, she is a second year student at Seattle Central College, potentially majoring in anthropology and philosophy. In reality, she is fascinated by using the mediums of photojournalism and writing to explore subcultures - the fringes, the limelight, and everything in between. She is in love with humans. Her only firm beliefs are that everything should be explored and most things are easier at night.

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