The last couple of mornings I've walked around my neighborhood, my old neighborhood, the place I call home. In fact, it feels odd to call it my old neighborhood because I feel like I still live there, it is home in a way that the apartment complex really is not, even though I am perfectly comfortably settling in to my temporary location. Perhaps that is the key, that I know where I reside at the moment is temporary, and my heart is still in my home.
In fact, I assumed I would come back and walk around my neighborhood, although I did not really manage it most of the first week. There were reasons for this of course: the frustrations of establishing a new routine, the trials of unpacking and not finding things, the general principle that I dislike the idea of driving somewhere just to walk. However it has dawned on me that some principles are just pig-headedness, at least some of the time, and although the apartment complex is large, and is nicely planted with miles of sidewalks, it is a functional but completely uninspiring place to walk. I can listen to a book on tape, but then I miss the early morning conversation that I have with the world when I walk in my home neighborhood. Rather than a centering experience, walking around the apartment complex simply feels like exercise, another task to be completed, and although I need exercise, what I am interested in my morning walk is both movement and a spiritual centering, a centering that can occur in my neighborhood, but does not in the concrete world of parking lots and apartment buildings.
When I walk around my streets, and it is easy to walk anywhere from a couple of miles to several, I slow down, I listen to the early morning, I greet the plants and watch the birds, the rabbits, the occasional deer or fox. I am present, fully present in a way that I am not in the acres of concrete. I notice tiny things. They are not necessarily unusual things, but that is not the point. My soul calms and slows, even if I am puffing up a hill, and my awareness picks up thing that I would miss in the hustle and hurry of modern American life.
It is a mile away, as the crow flies, and yet I feel like it is a different world.
There is a large park near me as well, with a walking trail, and I've gone there a couple of times, but it is often more populated even in the early morning. I am more distracted when I walk there, and it all urban-nature, shaped by man, not at all like wild nature. The park is neither wild, nor lived in, and to me it seems more detached and impersonal, not wild, and yet not a habited place. Nature-nature and civilized nature feel different, just as I feel different at Lakeshore Park, than I do in my home neighborhood. The latter is home, a little more intentionally planted, but the difference is really not so great, and the comfort in the space is palpable, at least for me. We all seek and bring different perspectives to our activities, and there is a place for each, what is best for one does not have to best for all. Actually, it has been a while since I've gotten outside -- outside the city -- to a different kind of nature, and it is time to do so again, but I count that as different from the immediacy of my morning routine, my morning walk.
Tikka also enjoys going home. We went for a ride, went by the house, and when we pulled onto our street she perked up, started looking eagerly out the window, growing visibly more excited as we reached our driveway. She was eager to jump out of the car, eager to go inside, dancing around, displaying her inner puppy self, not her often calm 8 or 9 hear old self. She ran into the house and ran around, checking out the rooms; even empty, they were still hers. We went out the front door and she could hardly contain herself, eager to go piddle in her own front yard, eager to go for a walk around her block, to sniff the old familiar smells. It reminded me of the way I used to feel when when George and I returned from a trip and we crossed the Hudson River on the way to our house from the airport, as if the air changes, and you are suddenly home. It is a feeling I still experience, or I have experienced again since I moved into this house, just as I accept that in a certain way the condo on Maple Branch was never completely home to me, much as I tried to make it so.
This is not to say I am at all unhappy here. I am fairly content, I am becoming more and more settled. My neighbors are nice. I will have people over soon. But this remains a temporary landing pad; it is not my home. Today I will finish unpacking books in the living room, the books I chose to bring with me, the books I decided I would or should read, as if I could anticipate what I would want to read. But limitations and constraints are also good, and I am determined to read those books, at least some of those books. A few new books have also arrived -- the first of the Booker longlist -- a couple of which are available through my local library system, but most of which I must buy. I've started The Water Cure, but I am not far into it yet and cannot judge. The writing is poetic and lyrical, but the book also seems somewhat hallucinogenic, with a distinctly disturbing undercurrent despite its lyricism. I am drawn in and enjoying it, but so far have trouble connecting what I am reading to the blurbs on the back of the book.
Unpacking. Walking. This is farmer's market Saturday and I love wandering around, the joy of the experience. I've been cooking and have actually cooked, using up last week's haul. Some time with family. A swim. Perhaps I will get pictures up on the walls. Perhaps a stroll along one of the nearby nature trails. It seems like a weekend full of promise, and I hope your weekend plans and hopes are promising indeed.