Out Of Place

mighty paul

The Paul Bunyan I know lives on the corner of Glenn and Stone in Tucson, Arizona, just a few miles north of campus. He was only short walk from my third home in Tucson, a small square house on Blacklidge with bright orange and green walls and my best friend, but Tucson isn’t really a town for walking, and Blacklidge especially is not a street for walking alone, when you’re 20, so I didn’t find him until I went on one of my crazy person runs just a few months before I moved. A crazy person run is an unplanned run that I’m completely unprepared for. It has nothing to do with exercise and everything to do with seeing someplace new, or some old place from a different vantage point. From the safety of my little orange house, my neighborhood was trash: drunks rolled around in the overgrown lot across the street, an old woman in a long white nightgown floated through in the middle of the afternoon, and a meth addict tore down the street on a bicycle dragging a kite shaped like a green-faced witch on the ground behind her. Every so often when Robert was working a late shift at the Hotel Arizona and I was in an argument with my roommate, I’d get restless enough that I’d hit the sidewalk myself. It was on one of these crazy runs that I met Paul Bunyan and realized my neighborhood was home to a national folk hero, in addition to drug addicts and townies and the college poor. It was on another crazy run that I met a blonde lady in denim dragging a box down the block, who I ended up driving all over town, to her brother’s house, and eventually to a women’s shelter, and realized that drug addicts and townies can be an unlikely source of heaven on earth. I didn’t take her picture, but I think of her when I think of that neighborhood, and I think of that neighborhood when I look at Paul, and now maybe you will, too.

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