Hello again, Dear Reader. It’s late in the afternoon here in my corner of Florida, and it’s cloudy, gray, and even a bit drizzly outside. Currently, the temperature is 79˚F (26˚C) under cloudy skies; with humidity at 78% and a northeasterly breeze blowing at 11 MPH/17 KPH, the feels-like temperature is 79˚F (26˚C). The forecast calls for scattered rain showers on and off – an estimate that, based on my observations, is dead-on accurate.
As you can divine from my blog post’s title, I finally decided to venture out a bit and go for a brief walk around the neighborhood I’ve called “home” for more than four years. I’ve done this a few times in the past, but certain…worries….and the vagaries of the weather in this part of Florida have kept me from going out to at least stretch my legs and escape from my self-imposed routine of sitting almost all day in front of a computer.
Look, in my “old life” back in Miami, I used to go for walks far more often than I do here in my new hometown. Admittedly, it wasn’t part of my daily routine until rather late in life, but I still walked a great deal more than I do in New Town in Florida, especially when I was a dog owner between 1995 and 2003, then again once my mom got sick in 2010 and I became her primary caregiver.
Before 2010, I sometimes took long walks around what we in East Wind Lake Village used to call the Big Block around the man-made body of water from which that gated community near Doral derives its name. It’s really a “block” on the eastern shore of the lake, which is adjacent to NW 97th Place. The western side of the block is actually a series of blocks that form the rest of the perimeter around the lake, the outermost houses at the end of each block being adjacent to NW 98th Court.
As I said before, I only went for walks on an everyday basis when (a) I owned a yellow Labrador retriever named Mary Joe and (b) after my mom’s illness changed everything – and not necessarily for the better. Before then, I only went out for walks when the weather was cool, or when I was stressed and needed to clear my head, or when I needed to go to either the nearby Winn-Dixie or the not-so-near Miami International Mall.
The only other city where I went out for long walks is Sevilla (Seville), the capital of the Spanish province Andalusia. There, I had no choice. I walked from my apartment in Los Remedios to the CCIS Center’s original location on Calle Adolfo Rodriguez Jurado five days a week for my morning college courses. And in the afternoons I had to walk to the Universidad de Sevilla’s main campus at Calle San Fernando, 4, which isn’t far from where I lived in the fall of 1988.
When I first moved here – not exactly by choice, mind you – I had every intention of at least getting out for brief constitutionals at least a few times a week. But for various reasons – some of which were based on personal-safety issues that were shared by everyone in the house at the time – I didn’t. I only ventured out a couple of times during my first two years here, almost always at night, and never for periods longer than 20 minutes.
And, of course, after a while inertia – mixed in with an unhealthy blend of paranoia and fear of the unknown – simply set in, and what was a temporary disruption of a routine I actually enjoyed became an ingrained habit. I simply stifled my desire to go out and get fresh air and sunshine and became a semi-recluse who only went out for an occasional film (I’ve seen only a handful of films in theaters since I left East Wind Lake Village), an occasional dinner with my adoptive family, and the usual errands of going to the bank or getting a haircut and a beard trim.
I almost went out yesterday afternoon, but since I had no way of letting my caregiver’s kids know that I was going to go out (I had everything ready for the stroll, too) so they wouldn’t lock the front door while I was out, I changed my mind. I took off my cap, my glasses, and my COVID-19 mask and put my key back in its place, removed my shoes, and came back to my office to write a post for this blog.
Today, of course, I decided that I would go out for a walk no matter what, so I waited till I heard one of the young adults was in the kitchen so I could let him know that I was going out and asked him to leave the front door unlocked. I have the key to the front door, but I have a hard time using it, so to avoid any issues with the door – or incurring the wrath of my caregiver – I don’t dare use it to unlock the door.
The young man and I get along well enough, so he said, “Okay, that’s cool. I won’t lock the door.” He also suggested I take a certain route so I could see the dog park and other nice parts of the neighborhood.
So, okay…I went out and took the suggested route. It’s cloudy outside, so the sky was gray and not very cheery-looking, but the temperature wasn’t too bad, either. I had my smartphone and even thought about snapping a few photos, but I didn’t. I am still skittish about revealing exactly where I live and posting even discrete photos of my new ‘hood might do just that.
I felt at ease during my walk; I mean, why not? For good or ill, this is my neighborhood now, and I can’t act as though I don’t belong here. So I walked as if I owned the entire area, with my head up and my shoulders as straight as possible. I didn’t look around too much; I didn’t want to even look like I was a potential burglar casing houses or parked cars. I just walked as if I had a particular destination in mind, and kept an eye for passing cars, kids on bikes, or adults walking their dogs.
Just when I was beginning to feel good about finally being out and about, I felt the first hint of a fine drizzle falling from the murky gray veil of clouds above. It wasn’t persistent or omnipresent, but I’ve been caught in far too many downpours to ignore the signs of a nearby rain shower, so I turned around and retraced my steps, passing in front of a row of houses with either American flags or Trump-Pence 2020 yard signs on display. (I live in a mostly-Republican neighborhood, even though the county at large has a Democratic majority.)
According to the time on my smartphone’s clock when I closed the front door behind me and locked it, I managed to venture out for 20 minutes before I turned back.
It wasn’t as long a constitutional as the ones I used to take either in Miami or Sevilla, but it was better than nothing.