Sunday Gratitude – Wandering
After graduating from college in a down economy, I drove out from Connecticut to San Francisco with a college acquaintance. I had never been west of the Rockies, and the car trip as well as living in California in the early 90s was eye-opening, frequently hilarious, and one of the best things I have ever done. Northern California at the time was carefree, inexpensive and filled with adventure. After finding a boring 9-5 job to “keep the lights on”, evenings and weekends were spent exploring. And wandering, which is much different.
Exploring is done with a goal in mind. “Let’s go explore Yosemite and climb Half Dome.” Yes, we did that. We explored gold country, Chico, Sausalito and Santa Cruz, where I first learned that you could call God by leaping on top of a garbge can, pulling off your shoe, putting it to your ear and whispering loudly “are you there God? It’s me.” California was filled with fun explorations.
On Sundays when I was home (where home was a small apartment on lower Nob Hill — very low Nob Hill), I wandered. I would put on running shoes, put $20 in my pocket, and walk out the door, with a wave to my two roommates. Yeah, no cell phones, kids–and it was awesome. Look both ways as you walked out–and randomly turn left or right and head up or down hills and around blocks and into pocket parks, watching as fog rolled in and out, and sometimes discovering something amazing like the ruins of the old baths, and sometimes just taking a break on a staircase or bench and watching some hapless tourist attempt to park on a 45 degree slope in a car too big for the space. Wandering was my favorite weekend activity.
I also used to wander when I lived in Brazil. It was a little less carefree, because one had to be a little more wary of inadvertently winding up in a favela (slum). But within our general neighborhood of Pinheiros, I used to find myself on tree-lined streets or finding a tiny stream and park with a community herb garden and think “where am I?” I used to love the surprises of graffiti’d street signs or walls.
Now in Weston, the wanderings are different. Usually I am with Mr. Owl or owlets, and usually the end destination is known–and yes, usually it involved a trail or natural space I want to explore. Off we go to explore Lookout Rock in Upton–a trail network much like ours in Weston, but different, and beautiful. And then we’re hungry so we have to find food. Cell phones make life less wandering, of course, but some of the magic is still there. We debate Trip Advisors and Yelp sites. And the arguments (I call them that–Brazilians call them discusssions) about which place looks best and which type of food everyone wants.
And then we wander off to little Uxbridge and find the most wonderful French cafe, and chat with the people there, and wander over to a small microbrewery next door, to discver a new beer. Then we find a dinosaur calling out for its family, left by someone by the bench. The wanderings are different now, but every bit as delightful. Perhaps more so now that I share them with family.
My gratitude today is for having places to wander–there are always places to wander–and for the discoveries along the way.
I’ve been wanderin’ early and late
From New York City to the Golden Gate
And it don’t look like
I’ll ever stop my wanderin’
-James Taylor “Wandering”