On Walking

Sunday afternoon I took a long walk to get two slices of pizza.

I slept in that morning and after a pot of coffee, photo editing, and too much marketing research I got up from my desk and walked.

Walking over the years has become my church; this is where I feel the presence and trust me I have spent more time in churches than most church ladies...truly. When I walk I can see the seasons change, flowers bloom and flowers dying, grass turning green to burning out from the sun, to the leaves falling off the trees. I see neighbors, not often though, few leave their homes. I do see some at times. I wave as I walk by, they have come to know me. There is one man who is always standing out at the end of his driveway on the right hand side where he places his trash. No matter what time of day I walk by there he is standing there, sometimes on his phone, sometimes smoking, sometimes just standing and staring out. I have come to think of him as my neighborhood gnome, always there, always present without purpose. I wonder what he thinks of me as I walk by.

As I walk out of my neighborhood I past a hospital. I see, as always, that the parking lot is full; there are never any open spots. Cars circle around doing loop-t-loops searching for a spot to park. I have used the services of this hospital myself. It is nice, nice people work there, and that is what makes the sick well. So I guess a full lot means there are people being treated nice, this is good.

Next I pass a park that is lined with tennis courts. Wish I could play, I have tried at times but with little success. A good photographer friend of mine was teaching me years ago but he was too good and I was too slow. These courts are littered with the geriatric, dressed in white: clean white clothes, clean white shoes and clean white hair. There are couples playing doubles and I smile every time and think “maybe when I’m sixty I’ll take up the sport”.

There is a patch of woods that I cut through on my way. This is the spot of land where I decided to take up trail running. This patch of woods is filled with loop-t-loop trails that are far enough for me to work up a good sweat but not too far that I could not cry out for help if I broke a leg. I am a month and a half into running and breaking a leg hasn't happened, not yet at least. I named this park wood-chip-trail with my daughter years ago. Not sure if that's the real name but at the entrance the trails are lined with wood-chips and it gives you the feeling that you're walking through a Disney forest scene.

As I come out of the woods I make my way into the next business district, now just one mile from the best pizza. I walk down the sidewalk past mom and pop stores. I wonder how they stay in business, but I’m glad that they do. Never once have I spent a dime in any of these places, except the pub.

I walk into the pizza shop, order two slices and large iced tea. There are five booths lining the wall, the first four booths are filled with men sitting alone staring at the TV on the wall, which has a golf game on. I take the fifth booth and start reading a City Paper while I wait for my order to be ready. Two guys in front of me start talking about how great the weather is in San Diego, I’ve only been there once and the weather was nice, white beaches too. As I listen to this conversation I wonder what is worse: that I am eves-dropping or actually interested in San Diego weather? Five guys, siting in five separate booths all eating alone on a Sunday afternoon. We all must have our story of why we are eating alone on a Sunday afternoon. Mine is that my wife and daughter are out shopping. I would much rather eat alone than go shopping. The gentleman in the first booth looks as if he had a hard life, you can see it in the wrinkles in his skin. You just know that he has stories to tell, but all he does is eat his pizza and at the oddest moment he speaks up and says, "Laguna beach. That is nice if you're in San Diego go there." And he goes back to eating.

I get my slices, take my time eating them.

I walk back home.