I spent most of the afternoon with family, and when they left, restlessness crept in. For a while, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do—until I realized that I just wanted to walk. I left the restlessness on the couch behind me and went for a walk around my neighborhood.
This kind of thing used to be commonplace for me. When I lived on a college campus, I’d go on walks all the time just to get fresh air and clear my head. Now, however, I live in a painfully rural area—dirt roads, dead ends, no streetlights—and walking just for the sake of walking looks out of place. As I embarked, I readied countless explanations in case any nosy neighbor questioned me.
No, I’m not lost.
No, my car didn’t break down.
I promise I’m not plotting a burglary.
Of course, I didn’t need to use any of these explanations, but I did feel a little like I was doing stand-up comedian Tig Notaro’s “Mitzi” bit, in which she crashes parties and pretends to look for a lost dog that never existed in the first place. (I couldn’t find a clip of the bit on YouTube to link here, but check out her comedy special, “Happy to Be Here” and go to 38:30.)
Two minutes into my walk, I stopped caring if my behavior looked odd. Instead, I enjoyed the sound of the wind through the trees and the chill spreading across my face and the smoky smell of a chiminea somewhere in the distance. The more I walked, the more I noticed about streets I’d driven through dozens of times, and I particularly liked to see how each neighbor had decorated their yard differently. Grand patio furniture and wrap-around porches spoke to a life of leisure and community for some; gravel yards and closed blinds indicated a life drawn inwards for others. There were colorful pieces of art hanging on pillars, a truck bed cover loitering near a front door, and an antique wagon wheel propped up against a boulder.
The cold weather granted me some solitude, and I didn’t see any other people until the very end of my walk. As I turned onto my street, I spotted a woman in the yard on the corner. She zipped up her coat, turned back towards the house, and shouted, “‘Cause he was naked and he jumped off the boat!”
If only I had a life as interesting as theirs.
But, for now, I’ll stick to the occasional walk.