Learning to Walk

Entrance to the three-in-one development on Vintage Parkway where I live

I’m cheating and writing my blog posts for this year in retrospect. Blogging–especially for my personal blog–tends to get pushed aside in favor of work and my unpaid second job driving my husband to the airport every other week.

This year I had a lot of trouble with my 17-year-old Saturn. One day I needed groceries and the battery died. I walked over to Grocery Outlet–not more than a mile away–and by the time I got back, I had blisters, I had shin splints, my hips had rusted shut, and all the muscles in my legs and thighs and rear hurt.

I realized that even for a sedentary geek with a chronic illness, I was in terrible shape. 

So I started walking. It was strange to walk just to walk, as opposed to walking to go somewhere, which I used to do much more of before moving to the suburbs. I decided that I was going to walk every day, even if it was just to the end of the street. It’s always easier for me to do something every day (or every week on the same day) than to try to remember whether this is the day I’m supposed to be doing it and when I did it last.

I’d heard various of my fellow geeks talk about how they’d started exercising and it made them more productive and gave them more energy. I was hoping for that outcome, but in the beginning, it just exhausted me.

The good part is, I’m old enough to know that things don’t get easier unless you keep doing them.

And it did get easier. I found that even on some days when I didn’t feel well, I was still able to walk. In some cases, I’d even feel better. During the spring I walked mostly in the morning; as the days got hotter, I was more likely to go out just before sunset.

I got to know many of the neighbors by sight (and one or two to actually talk to). I also got to see the housing development where I live in a way I never did while driving. For one thing, it’s a lot bigger than it seems when just following the road in from Main Street to our house. Over time, I also got to see who’s feeding which feral cats, which houses are for sale or empty (there was a period when there were three empty houses within a block of here, but I think they’re all occupied now), who’s getting the house painted or the roof re-shingled, and who has the wildest holiday decorations. (That’s easy: 1876 Concannon won the Hometown Holiday Decorating Contest this year, and you can practically see their display from Mars.)

I set out to explore the whole development. When you’re walking, it’s more obvious which parts of the development are which. I’m pretty sure that California Isle, where I live, is the most recent. It has the most repetition of architectural styles (there are possibly five different styles of house, so there’s at least one house just like ours on every block). The houses and the trees are both bigger once you get up to Concannon or onto the other side of Vintage Parkway (in one direction) and down Walnut Ranch past Freemark Lane in the other–except for the streets on the north side of Walnut Ranch to the east of Vintage Parkway, where you get a lot of one-story Craftsman-style homes.

Once I’d inspected everyone’s lawns (more on that in another post), I settled into a few regular paths: a westward loop, an eastward loop, and an into-the-park-and-along-the-trail loop, which is about twice the length of either of the others, depending on where I get off the trail.

In the beginning, I took a lot of photos. These days, I don’t always take the camera with me. It’s kind of freeing to go out with only a house key. And while I’m never going to be athletic, I got to where I can walk to Grocery Outlet, or Raley’s, or even Lucky, without crippling myself, and I actually do it fairly often.

WordPress fangirl, ghostwriter, linguistic alchemist, podcast consultant, and accidental vapor advocate. Married with 2 cats.

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