I went for a walk today. The sun was shining with a clear blue sky. It was about 55 degrees.
I saw people of all ages walking, running, and bike riding. Some people were in their yards and raked the leaves. I saw two kids play football in a neighborhood park. I saw a girl practice lacrosse swings in the driveway. I watched birds fly and I heard them tweet from the tops of houses and trees. I took a short video of squirrels.
I blinked at an elderly woman across the street on a motorized wheelchair navigating a sidewalk. I asked myself, why is she outside?
I blinked again when I walked by a hair salon and saw someone getting a cut. I don’t think that will happen much longer.
The doors and windows of many neighborhood businesses that were hopping a week ago had hand-written signs announcing that because of the “current situation” or the “current health conditions,” they were closed. The notes had phone numbers if people had questions.
A restaurant’s hand-written sign was simpler: “Closed.”
I observed short bursts of conversations…
- The teenage girl complaining to her father, as the mother and son trailed behind, “No, Dad, I hate this. It’s speed walking. I don’t like it.”
- The neighbors talking to each other across a stream. The man who told the woman that if she needs anything to yell. The woman who replied, “Yeah, thanks. I’m not going anywhere.”
- The mother following her son as they rode bikes, warning him, “Be careful. Go slow. There are a lot of walkers.”
- The two girls riding bikes and wondering what to do next. One girl asking, “Do you want to keep on biking?” Her friend responding, “I don’t think I can.” The first girl riding away and yelling, “OK. See you later. Don’t ignore those texts.”
With the warmer weather and the pollen coming out to play with my allergies, I sneezed when I observed two women talking on the other side of the street. I felt paranoid as if they were looking me and whispering to themselves, “Did you hear that? A sneeze! Do you think he’s okay?” Or, did they ignore me and my sneeze? I wonder.
It was eerie recognizing a heightened awareness of people near me. I frequently looked behind me as if I was in a dark alley whenever I heard a noise, wondering if that couple two blocks away were gaining on my casual walking pace. I’m not accustomed to these feelings.
When a man approached me from the direction I was headed and made a raspberry noise by rumbling his lips together, I said hi.
“How are you doing?” he asked as we slowed our paces and maintained newly-familiar distances apart.
“Living the life,” I said. I hoped he caught my sarcasm.
He sighed. Walking away, I heard his mumbled reply. “Yeah.”