It's been awhile since I've added anything here. I considered letting it go dormant. Allowing the site to lapse into the sleep of forgotten websites. But this morning I felt the quickening of Springs promise and this piece arrived asking to be written and shared.
The Walking Women
The sky is dark. Some mornings the moon brightens the sidewalks my shoes are treading upon, warning me of the cracks and bumps along the way. Other days the mornings are just dark and I rely on the 12 years of repetitive footfalls to warn me of obstacles.
The neighborhood I live in is that of the working class. A mixture of homes and condos and apartments too.
Once I would go out for a morning run in this darkness but now I walk with my dogs or my husband or both.
There is a peace in this between time. No longer night yet not quite morning either. I wonder at the lights popping on in kitchens and living rooms I pass. While some remain dark and slumbering. There are work trucks warming up and sometimes cars left running in driveways awaiting their occupants.
The birds are beginning to sing.
And the women are walking.
There is the woman who used to run and walk down the middle of the street playing podcasts on the speaker of her phone but who now walks a dog on the sidewalks. A well mannered dog with its own lighted collar no less.
There are the two women who I gather work together based on the brief snippets of conversation I have heard, who walk a beagle several days a week (also down the middle of the street). One of which lives just a round the corner from me but who I have never spoken to, outside of a brief hello.
There is the woman with the semi well behaved husky who watched me fall one day when one of my dogs knocked me down in the excitement of seeing her fluffy canine. Words have never been exchanged between us, yet I’ve seen her leave her house and we have actively avoided our paths crossing too closely since that fateful day that resulted in skinned knees and elbows.
There is the woman who is out every single morning, and who during the pandemic upgraded her walking garb to include lighted arm bands. She wears headphones and is out and about for well over an hour. For a time this last summer I saw a young girl with her. Mostly though she is alone. We wave and smile at each other sometimes.
There have been others who have come and gone. Or who intermittently reappear in this predawn exercise.
The woman who walked often during the first year of the pandemic, also with headphones almost always smiling and waving as we passed, but who I have not seen now for months.
Or the one who took up running and I would see every few days in her exercise clothes, headphones and smart watch, jogging along the various paths I too was walking, but who has seemingly decided on another form of exercise.
I do not know these women.
Yet I feel an affinity for them.
A closeness and camaraderie.
I feel safer knowing they are out in the darkness with me. Creating patterns as we wind up and down the streets of this neighborhood.
I know where and when our paths will often cross and I find myself looking for them.
Or wondering where they are if they are absent.
I wonder if they think these things about me.
I make up stories about who they are based on the clues and assumptions my mind discovers and creates, and I’m curious, if I ever spoke to them, how many of these stories might be true.
What I have come to believe though, is that we all find solace in this quiet time. Before the day has officially begun. Before the responsibilities of work, and family emerge completely, we are all taking this time for ourselves. A time to come into our bodies with movement and into our minds with the steady rhythm of our footfalls and cadence of our heartbeats.
A time to connect to self before the world explodes in the cacophony of motion that births each day into being.
The walking women.