Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, is especially handsome as he lounges, otter-like, on the green-green living room rug in warm afternoon sunlight.
Sometimes, I am an especially slow learner. A woman who works in my building is a local character an observant person may notice walking at a vigorous pace in New Brunswick or Highland Park. We share a birthday, so it was inevitable that I would notice everything she does and wonder when I’d start doing it. In this case: when would I take to speed walking in six-inch heels?
Well, that’s not going to happen but about five weeks ago, I threw a bit of a tantrum about working in the library basement’s fluorescent glow while actual sunlight was just outside. I pushed back my chair and went for a walk on the small, narrow streets in front of the library. There was sunlight, and trees were budding, and pollen dust fell on every surface. I felt giddy, and decided this going-for-walks thing had potential.
For the past three weeks, if it wasn’t pouring outside or a Tuesday, I spent my morning break and most lunchtimes walking around the same grid between the library, the hospital and the park. A few things happened right away:
1. I stopped shoveling food into my mouth;
2. Sunlight made me feel healthier;
3. I’ve had fewer sleepless nights.
I’m pretty sure I haven’t lost any weight because I feel as if I am still expanding. I don’t know. I’m working up the nerve to weigh myself.
People outside in sunlight talk to each other. A woman in scrubs walking casually down the middle of the street with a cigarette in one hand says, “Isn’t it beautiful?” I say, “It’s beautiful.” A man is walking along the side of his house with gardening tools. I say, “The pink trees are spectacular.” He says, “The mild winter made them flower more than usual.” A woman in business attire and heels closes her eyes to let sunlight fall evenly on her face. “It’s gorgeous out,” I say. “Gorgeous,” she says. Outside the senior center, I smile and wave; a block down, the letter carrier smiles and says, “Hello!” The college students who live in these houses, some of which are a few hundred years old, have this spring vitality I love seeing. Everyone is very nice, which is odd in a city where student and resident populations live in conflict. I’m sure each of these nice people would run me over in a heartbeat if I stole their parking space, but still.
Over the winter, my arthritis moved into my hips, which had not given me trouble before. At work, I can’t sit for an hour anymore without pronounced stiffness that is not as much fun as it sounds. Going for walks doesn’t solve this problem, but it helps. I get to think by myself and without commercial interruption. I meet the local stray cats, who seem well-fed and not at all fearful. Honestly, I can’t say enough about this going-for-walks thing.
I feel like I know a secret and I can’t keep those. So I’m telling you.