Friday, June 27, 2008

"Use Your Walking Feet..."

...It's a very silly parental phrase I picked up goodness knows where. It means, "walk," as opposed to running.

Tonight, it was as if some divine parent said it to me, "Use your walking feet 'Masasa.'" But "walk" was in opposition to driving. The battery on my van died while I was at work. G. is sure she turned off all lights in the van before giving it to me to drive to work, but she was moving dozens of boxes in and out of the van this morning, and it appears one of the back lights got flicked on. She must not have noticed that one.

So I walked home, since G. was already asleep in bed (as were the kids).

I had really worked up in my mind what this walk was going to be like, when we first put an offer on this house and I was considering changes I might make in my transportation choices. I have never liked walking. It actually makes me feel irritable, especially when the weather is not perfect walking weather. I would rather bike or skate (not rollerblade, apparently, as I have failed miserably so far at that). This walk seemed like it would be pleasurable for the first half, near the downtown area where there were things to see and people still out and about. But the second half seemed like it would be a bit dreadful to me. There is a stretch of road with quiet houses on one side and a mildly wooded area on the other side. The street lights are more stretched out, so it gets dark too. I don't like walking in the first place, but walking without landmarks is an especially dreadful activity.

I felt before doing it that the second half of the walk would be a boring one. Instead, I found the whole walk to be rather invigorating.

The first part was easy, as I suspected. I did stop at a restaurant after the first 0.3 miles or so, and thankfully there were several still open (it was around 11:45pm), just to get a sandwich since I hadn't had a real dinner and mainly to hear someone's voice besides my own. I got a cheese and veggie sub and some homefries, and ate a few bites before putting it away in my bag. Between taking some bites and checking out the different businesses, I kept my mind fairly busy. Before I knew it, I hit the grocery store that I know is between 0.7 and 0.8 miles from my house. This felt encouraging...I was getting so close.

The next stretch was the part I had been dreading. In fact, I suddenly noticed there was a little hill in front of me just to add an additional irritation. I know, I know, a little hill-- one I'd never even noticed before-- should be no big deal. But it has been a while since I've taken a walk this long aside from times when I've set out to "go hiking." I'll admit I am not in good shape right now. Nonetheless, my mind went drifting and I didn't notice I was on the hill for some time. Suddenly my other thoughts stopped and I said to myself, "man, I am getting a little feet and legs are starting to hurt." And then I realized I was on the hill, and I felt better knowing this was the cause.

When I reached the top of the hill, I could see the roundabout that is one of the central pieces of my neighborhood! I also could see a school that the neighborhood kids attend. "If they walk home from here," I thought, "I must be close." So much for no landmarks!

Soon, I was in the roundabout. At that point, mild anxiety arouse again as I considered that it felt like I was "almost home," but in fact, my street was still a ways up the road, and my house is about 0.3 miles up my street. But it wasn't too bad getting to my street. The longest stretch of the whole walk was probably the one on my own street, as it had fewer landmarks and was the darkest of them all. But I made it home in the exact amount of time I predicted: about 40 minutes. I live about two miles from my work, so I was walking a 20 minute mile, more or less, which is what I predicted. I do hate walking after all, and am out of shape, but 20 minutes seems average.

My realizations include:
  • Since I am not big on walking, I wouldn't want to walk this everyday, but I think biking it will be a breeze, and I think I'd be willing to walk it on occasion.
  • Tonight was a cool night, but humid. I came home somewhat chilly but also damp and sticky (ick!). I don't think I could have tolerated the humidity if it had been hot out. I was glad to be walking when the sun was down.
  • I think I could walk this with M., if not the full way, at least partially (and we have already taken a bus to my work, so we could catch a bus if he got tired). I wouldn't do it with K., on the other hand. She is a hard kid to walk with in general: she gets tired very fast and also does a lot of funny walking (walking while putting her head and shoulders down so she yanks off your arm, etc.). I might try it sometime with her in a stroller, but in this weather I can't imagine tolerating our beloved backpack/frontpack carrier because we'd both be soaking...and the sling would irritate my old car-accident related upper back injury (the injury that has given me daily headaches for about five years now).
  • The sidewalks for the most part are great on this walk! Nice and wide...very old New England. You don't see sidewalks going in like this anymore. It makes for a much more pleasurable walk, and if absolutely necessary, could be a safe albeit illegal haven for a biker trying to avoid crazy New England drivers. There are some stretches of sidewalks with big tree roots going right through, ripped up and ill-maintained. But most of it is nice.
  • On my way, I passed a street sign where there was no street. It was a street name followed by "Terrace." It appears it is a footpath Terrace. I found that to be a delightful felt like it must be an old street that survived the invention of cars unscathed!

All in all, I am reminded once again that sometimes I build things up in my mind to be much more difficult or unappealing than they actually are. I am glad for this reminder.

1 comment:

sf said...

Nice descrips S-M, I enjoyed reading this (from the point of view of a walker!) Remember when you were little and we would go hiking and you would always sit down and "refuse" to go any farther?