Yesterday, I went on a walk.
After being down with COVID for about a week, my stamina had slowly (oh. so. slowly.) started to come back, allowing me to do things like stand up, make dinner without feeling like I was going to pass out, and even do small bouts of yoga that were mostly just breathing and remembering that I wasn’t a blob.
So, on my best day yet, I decided to walk.
Recreational walking was not my thing for a long time. I thought, if I am not a dog mother, giving her child exercise, or a human mother, pushing a stroller while my infant sleeps, then why would I walk places when I could, you know, run?
Running always seemed more logical to me. You can burn more calories, increase your cardiovascular strength, and lose weight all in way less time than walking. Plus, you feel like a badass, and with enough training you can even do crazy things like run marathons.
But then the pandemic hit, and my sister, who was confined to working from home entirely on zoom, began walking in order to maintain her sanity, and I started to get curious. I started walking through the wealthy parts of our neighborhood and admiring the houses. I liked to imagine what it would be like to live inside. I even found a few favorites that I purposefully routed my walks around, just so I could be nosey on a regular basis.
Then, when we moved out of our home of six years and into an apartment closer to the city, I fell in love with walking. Not only did it help me familiarize myself with the new neighborhood, allowing me to map it out in my head, but it allowed me, once again, to snoop. To look at all the different styles of houses that are home to countless different lives.
Walking has become one of my favorite things to do—exercise or not. Whenever I’ve had a long day, I like to go for a walk to clear my head. And when I have an open morning on the weekend, I like to go for long walks, turning down every street I come across just to see where it leads. When I start walking, I don’t want to stop, I just want to stay in that flow state where all that exists is me, my music, and the beautiful things I can find along the way.
One of my favorite things about my neighborhood is the trees. The streets are lined with tall trees that cast wonderful shadows on the walls, gates, and sidewalks, and I often find myself looking up more than straight-ahead. I can’t get enough of the way the leaves look fluttering in the breeze with the sky as their backdrop, or the way the bark curves and clothes the trunks, in all kinds of textures and patterns. Not to mention, flowers of all kinds bloom in fenced in gardens or from bushes reaching out into the street, and mailboxes come in all shapes and sizes, some even hand painted.
Walking around my neighborhood has made me feel like part of the neighborhood. I have become familiar with some neighbors—and even more familiar with their dogs—that make their daily loops. I have started to choose which direction I walk based on what time of day it is because I like the way the sun changes the tone of different buildings, or the way the breeze blows down different streets. I know which hills are steep and which roads are flat, and I know which intersections are always crowded and where the sidewalks widen and end.
On my walk yesterday, I felt blissfully happy. Not only because I was so incredibly grateful to be out bed, out of my apartment and on the other side of COVID, but because it was sunny and warm, and I had no responsibilities waiting for me at home, so I knew I could take my time and go wherever I wanted. Walking made me feel human again, it made me feel alive. I couldn’t help but smile the whole time, admiring all the colors and feeling the heat on my skin.
Turns out, walking was a well-kept secret. One often buried under pride and stereotypes. But it does more for me than most anything else. It reminds me that I am here, among so many wonderful things—and I often take pictures of my shoes to prove it.
I am here and today was a good day.