I am working to find places to walk that I don’t normally walk. We live in such a segregated country (and segregated regions, cities, towns, neighborhoods, streets, schools). I walk to connect the dots – or at least a few of them.
Walking everyday means that I start to discover my own habits. I tend to walk the routes I know. I know a lot of places, so I’ve been able to walk somewhere different every day for ten days, but still, without thinking about it, I walk the routes I know.
Unless I intentionally decide to walk somewhere that I don’t know.
Sometimes I need to find new starting points if I really want to go somewhere new. If I always start in the same place, I’m usually going to end up walking the same paths. And yes, I’m thinking metaphorically here as well as literally.
Tonight I found a way to walk down a couple of new streets – streets I don’t know very well; streets I’m not sure I’ve ever been on, or at least not for a very long time, and not when I was paying attention.
I saw tiny houses with enormous yards. Tiny houses with enormous garages, too (bigger than the houses!). Towering houses with one lone tree in the yard. Houses that had twists and turns and almost bumped into the next house with additions that stretched around their property like snakes.
Fenced-in yards unattached to houses; dogs get the grass and the people stay inside. Television sets blooming through half-drawn curtains. Old dance tunes playing from a dimly lit living room.
A woman on a glassed-in porch, hair wrapped in a towel, cigarette in hand, her face and the smoke lit only by the computer screen in front of her. A man loading barrels ten feet high on the back of a truck, on a dark, quiet street.
Long empty lawns with three prim hedge-bushes up against a house, right next to a house that lives in a forest of evergreens so thick I almost didn’t see the house itself.
I used to live in a city where I could look out my kitchen window and see a train coming into a station about a half a mile away, the small lights rolling up to the station each night where I myself would board each morning. I was at enough of a distance that I could see the entire train at once, and often I would think about all those lives, each person immersed in their own worlds but right next to each other.
Our neighborhoods are like that.
Tonight as I walked, I saw a long, quirky train of homes and choices and lives, rolling along next to each other, but not always aware of each other – rolling along next to me, because I’m on that train too. I just need to remember to look around.