A few weeks ago my husband and I were all set to join my family at my parents’ house for dinner. The invitation came from my dad, who was living the single life for a fewdays while my mom was out of town. We may have viewed this partially as a mission to rescue my dad from the diet of corned beef hash and Miller Genuine draft he adopts whenever my mom is out of town, but to our surprise he informed us that he had stocked up on kit salads and that a Chinese Chicken Salad was on the menu that night.
My sister and I had recently signed up for a walking challenge at work so I had become a little more aware of opportunities to “get in some steps”. So far this meant walking the .6 miles to my chiropractic appointment instead of driving, intentionally parking at the far end of the grocery store lot, and, in those desperate moments when I wanted my step tracker to hit the 10,000 mark for the day, running up and down our stairs at home a few times. But on this day, as we looked forward to joining my family for a meal, I had a radical idea: what if I walked to my parents’ house?
I did this once before several years ago, only I decided to ride my bike. My parents house is about nine miles (8.7) from ours, which is not very far on a bike if you’re a cyclist or even if you’re just in sort of reasonably okay shape. I recall arriving at my parents’ house with heat stroke. Someone brought me a glass of ice water as I sat panting on a patio chair and casually informed me that a mountain bike was not ideal for a street ride. Who knew?
As I contemplated walking to my mom and dad’s I remembered the bike ride and the heat stroke that followed. I thought about the heat. I worried about traffic. I fretted over the best route. I came up with every reason I could to stop me from actually following through on this “crazy”idea. But one thing kept popping into my head: why was this idea so crazy to me? It was a walk. I go for walks all the time. Most days a week in fact. I doubted I had the time to make it the whole 8.7-mile walk, maybe half way, so this would actually be a shorter walk than some of the routes I do on a regular basis. I had hiked about 17 miles during a trip to Yosemite just a few weeks earlier. I frequently walk from my house down to the river and back, which is a longer walk than this would be. So why was walking a certain distance perfectly normal in some instances and ludicrous in others? I had no good answer. It’s not as though joining my family for a meal of Chinese Chicken Salad out of a bag required that I wear heals (and honestly I’m hard pressed to find any event that would get me into/onto a pair of heals). So I walked. I put on my sneakers and told my husband I was going to get a head start on foot and requested that he stop the car when he saw me walking on the side of the road and kindly give me a lift the rest of the way.
I ended up walking about five miles that day, and I could tell you all about the walk – the cool picture I got of the railroad tracks, the guy in a passing car who I thought was waving to me so I smiled and waved back only to realize he was not waving but making lewd hand gestures, and then he yelled “I want to grab your boobies” (Me, too.) – but honestly, the real journey took place in my mind before I ever left the house. The road from No to Yes can be a long and difficult slog, but in the end it’s always worth it, even if all you get out of it is a reminder of just that.