Downey barefootin'

Can going barefoot at the park feel priceless? Can it bring the 'sweet life'? There's no ticket. I pay no sales tax or gratuity. No waiting in line for souvenirs, hot dogs or churros. I don't need a parking ticket, because my feet are my wheels. I do it alone, or with my girlfriend, Karolin, here more than anywhere else. Walk with me.At Furman Park, doing the loop, see my face light up on the third lap. Near those tennis courts, hear my blackened feet pound a hard sandy path. Now look at that soft sea of green - I feel earth's energy shooting up its veins into my soles. Near the baseball diamonds, three 30 foot oak trees tower over us. I lean on the earth. Each step I take gets stronger, feels sharper - barefoot. Red sunsets turn crimson and yellow sunlight turns gold. Do the mockingbirds, sparrows and crows make an orchestra? Does the honeysuckle smell like love? My senses light up, turn on and burn. Tag it - priceless. Shoes don't do service to earth's power. Barefoot, there's no insulation. I could step on a thorn or shard and feel the pain. Like real life and its challenges. But usually, my feet get tougher and so do I. Tag it - priceless. Gallatin, in Downey, became the first school I went to that had grass. Before I went to Hamlin, in Los Angeles City Terrace - all blacktop. Nothing grew there, not even weeds. The air reeked of tar from a factory. I thank my dad. He got a teaching job here and I found a fresh new world - grass. I love Downey. Warm down-to-earth people here throw me hellos more than anywhere else I've lived. That's why my shoes come off here more. No one, no thing can take my light. They say if you want to feel wealthy, count the things you have that money can't buy. Going barefoot is one of mine. Now I've counted three laps. A thin overcast sky serves up 68 degrees and I walk in my shirtsleeves. A half-breed Dalmatian curses me a hundred times. A jogger who never lost his breath passes me five. I walk tall, a growth of the earth like the three monster oak trees at Furman. I possess the earth, my personal endowment. My toes rub over new blades of crabgrass, Bermuda grass and yes - thorns too. Earthworms, ants and gophers belong to me. I own the grass and that moment as much as Kobe Bryant, Bill Gates or the President would if they walked with me. No one could fill those seconds more fully than I. You lasted three laps with me for some reason. Call it whatever you want, I tag it - priceless.

********** Published: November 20, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 31