I’ve spent a good deal of my life going places. Whether it was to another county or to another country, I’ve always, as my Daddy would say, had my foot in the road. Sometimes, I’ve even been in one new place and all the while thinking about the next place I could go.
I mean if you’re in Gulf Shores, you can just scoot on over to Pensacola. If you’re in Tennessee, why not go to North Carolina. If you’re already in France, what’s a little jump over to Monaco?
You’re practically already there, right?
But the COVID 19 pandemic has cut my hot water to a cold drip. (That’s another saying from Daddy, by the way.) Half the time I don’t even want to go to the grocery store much less to some unknown locale. There’s just too much risk.
And I’ve probably made myself more than a little sad and more than a little crazy thinking about all the places I could go if there were no COVID or what I would be doing if there were no pandemic … if things were like they used to be … if we could only … if … if … if… if… if… if! Damn that sorry little two-letter word!
That’s why the seventeenth lesson I’ve learned is that sometimes you just have to slow down and be where you are.
Really really focus on just being. I know that sounds all froufrou doo doo new agey and whatever, but I’m totally serious. Take a deep breath and concentrate on all the things around you that you always take for granted.
My life for the last 8 months has basically revolved around my neighborhood. And in that time, I have walked every sidewalk and every alley. And I don’t mean just hoofing it to some destination. I’ve really explored like I’ve never explored my surroundings before.
Since I moved to Birmingham, I’ve always enjoyed seeing the grand houses that line Highland Avenue, but I’ve found new appreciation for the crumbling beauty of some that haven’t been so well-loved. There are even houses on streets I used to frequently drive on that I had never even noticed before. And many of these houses back up to alleys. You can get a whole new perspective on a place from it’s hidden side.
I’ve actually spent time sitting in the parks. Highland winds around three parks — Caldwell, Rhodes, and Rushton. For six years I’ve lived across the street from the one I think is most beautiful, but before March, I bet I could count on the fingers of one hand the times I’d been to it. Now I have a favorite bench. Now I know which picnic table gets the shade at lunchtime.
Spring has given way to summer which is now yielding to fall. I’ve seen a vast array of blooming things come up in unexpected places. I’ve smelled the smells and admired the many colors. I never knew so many different kinds of birds called my neighborhood home too. I even saw a little city bunny once.
And while exploring my neighborhood doesn’t quite scratch my traveling itch, it has been a way to center, to experience calm comfort, to set my roots just a little bit deeper in the city I call home. I know I’ll never give up my foot-in-the-road ways, but I know now that I don’t have to always be on the go. Sometimes I can just be.
(This year for #BlogLikeCrazy, I’m talking about 30 lessons I’ve learned in 2020. Read the other entries here.)