Here is an elderly couple I see all the time in our neighborhood. We pass them every morning on our way to school, as the girls tear at top speed past the Greek monastery, through the park and down the steep hills to JAIS. We pass them again in the afternoon as we trudge, hot and tired, up those same hills, school bags dragging. They must be in their 80s but at 3 p.m. they are significantly faster and more energetic than we. A couple of weeks ago, I started going out for walks after dinner and I ran into the couple again. Do they walk all day or are we just on the exact same schedule? I hope I’m still walking in my 80s and that I have Terence by my side.
Experiencing this city by foot has been one of the defining experiences of my year, of all our years. It’s funny: the more we walk, the less we can tolerate cars and buses, and the girls and I are now get carsick extremely easily. I love having the time to walk instead. I’m seeing things I never would from a car window: the little lizards scurrying in and out of cracks in the stones. The amazing birds, including a family of green parrots that sometimes roosts in nearby trees. The stray cats, especially one who lives in the dumpster in nearby alley; he’s intense, a fighter, a survivor. The plants: bright flowers, heavy fruit trees, green-gold olive trees and rosemary bushes. And that’s not even including the the human species…
Walking has helped me slow down and notice things.
I wonder how I’ll keep walking next year. Of course there are tons of gorgeous walks and hikes around the SAS campus, but there’s something different about going out for a walk versus just happening to cover five miles in the course of daily living, and passing such a kaleidoscope of existence in the process. Just for kicks, Terence mapped the distance from our house to the Old City, then used the same radius from our house in Delaware. It gets us down one (pretty but monotonous, also dangerous) road, around the corner onto another similar road, and up the driveway to the girls’ new school. Who knows? Maybe we will walk to school once in a while. But it won’t be like this.