And After 12 Years…

I have lived in this city for 12 years now.  It is a city by the sea…a city with culture, history, and beautiful architecture. But…it is a city. The traffic never stops, the noise is ever-present. There are few parks for the kids to play in, and because of the constant congestion, it takes ages to get anywhere. Clearly, I am NOT a city girl.

And up until now it didn’t really matter. I take care of the kids, basically by myself, and I have neither friends nor family nearby to help out. No one I can leave them with to go to a gym, or for a walk, or just to run errands.  Yes, I can get someone when I need to, but I can’t afford to get someone everyday, or even three times a week.  So up until now, I had no choice but to be home-bound most of the time.

The difference is that now, thank God, all of my kids are in school, at least part time. Which gives me…time for me. Time during the day for me! Imagine that.

And for quite a few months I’ve been looking into getting a treadmill, hoping to regain some fitness, energy, and spring in my life. But we keep hearing the same non-sense from all the vendors: “the machine has to rest for 20 minutes after each 20 minute interval.” What??? I can only work out for 20 minutes at a time? What if I want to walk for 45 minutes? What if i want to walk for an hour…or two?

And then all of a sudden it hit me: If all I want to do is walk…I can just walk outside, in the sun and the breeze, by the sea. The reason this idea had eluded me for so long is because the young male population here doesn’t understand what it means to see a girl or woman and just leave her alone. They feel the need to gawk, whistle, say things, and they make you feel just plain uncomfortable.  And there are groups of these clowns EVERYWHERE YOU TURN.

But I’m over it. I want to walk…I want to walk and enjoy this city, enjoy the sea. So I made the decision, and today was my first power-walk adventure! And it felt great, thank God. I put on my work-out clothes, my shades, and the most important item: the sign across my forehead that says “F- Off!” And despite this sign, which I use when I venture out alone, I got two comments.  [It’s hard to describe these comments. They don’t actually say things like, ‘hey, baby;’ those aren’t the words. They say things that in any other context would sound fine, but it’s said and intended in that ‘hey, baby’ manner.] And unfortunately they start young; one of the comments I heard was by a kid who couldn’t have been older than eight.  I wanted so badly to take him over my knee. I wanted to give him a good beating so he’d think twice about saying anything to anyone ever again. I wanted to explain to him how disrespectful he was being. But ignoring this behavior is safer…so that’s what I did.

Along the way I saw kids splashing around in the water, couples holding hands and strolling along. One or two families, walking along. I came across 11 other jogger/walkers. I was relieved to see that about half of them were women. Gave them all half smiles and kept walking.  One guy was riding his bike on the sidewalk, and although I would reprimand such behavior in the States, I was happy he’d decided to leave the highway to the cars. [That’s right–on one side is the sea, and on the other is one of the two main highways in this city.] I gave him a mental high-five and kept on my way.

Coming up to the curve in the road I told myself that if on the other side I could see Stanley Bridge, then I would walk until I made it there. And around the bend….I peeked…and there was Stanley! So I kept trekking along. But Stanley kept disappearing behind other bends and curves. And I was worried that my untrained legs may not make the walk back if I stretched my limits too much. I was probably only 5 minutes from Stanley, but I didn’t want to risk it, so I turned back.

In total I walked for about an hour, probably about 2.5 miles. But it was good for me. It made me feel great physically, but more importantly, I feel revived emotionally. Looking forward to making this part of my morning ritual. You are my goal for next time, Stanley…we’ll meet soon, God willing.

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