I walked somewhere yesterday.
A mere week before Christmas and I walked rather than drove somewhere I needed to go, the countdown of holiday deadlines notwithstanding.
There is a post office a fifteen-minute walk from my new apartment, and around 9:30 on Saturday morning I set out on foot with the twelve Christmas cards I had written and stamped Friday evening. I had been playing Nat King Cole on vinyl as I wrote them.
I have never actually walked to this post office before; there is always on-street parking nearby and I usually tack on post-office visits to other errands with the car. I looked at the keys on the kitchen table as I put on my jacket and cap. I recalled a colleague’s exasperation midday Friday recounting the traffic frenzy she had encountered on her lunch break. I opted to avoid the possibility of frenzy.
I took what started out as an errand and made it work for me as a journey that I wanted. No one else was walking my street, and that solitary status let my imagination play a bit. The suburban neighbors along whose quiet sidewalks I made my way Saturday morning were already out, I presumed.
It was good to feel the cold air and know that house after house, I was passing story after story of people who did not need to think important any of the things that were preoccupying me – this year still again – a week before December 25.
What was the story behind that second-floor window, for example?
And then I stopped.
Could the story be any more unpredictable than the one that I have lived the past eight months behind my own second-floor windows several houses back – the story, in fact, that I was telling in the twelve cards in my hands?
Will twelve people behind their own windows in various parts of the country later this week read with the curiosity and intentness that I strove to inspire as I sat at my writing Friday evening?
And the people whose cards I addressed upon my return – will they sense the sun of my easy Saturday afternoon?