Every walk I took last year had a purpose: going to Bartells, the Met, Safeway. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, I suppose, but it limited my impressions of Tacoma. I never bothered to wander around, to explore. To walk down to the water front, to step on the Fall leaves with a purposeful crunch. I was more caught up in the action of Doing Something, to just be.
When I was younger, I would go on walks with my mother, our neighbors, my aunt — we would walk to the beach and I would jump in the waves. We would walk to the park and I would stand on the edge of the bay, amongst the European beach grass, while my shoes became coated in muddy sand, and look out at the juxtaposition of the two nearby towns. I’d watch the cars drive past on the highway, while I walked on the railing of the railroad tracks, my arms outstretched to keep myself from falling.
Somewhere in the years I lost that and somehow this year I gained it back.
I stood on the front steps of the Cushman Substation building and pulled my shoulders up, while scrunching my nose because this is creepy, guys. I stopped at the Little Lending Library on Union Street and looked through it, pulling out a few of the books and reading passages, before continuing on my way. I threw my hands up in the air while walking up a hill, because we were only halfway there. Petted a cat that was weaving through the bars of a house that was up for sale. Wandered through the playground of an abandoned elementary school and read off the graffiti scribbled in Sharpie on the yellow and green plastic structure. I went to the pedestrian bridge and looked down at the trees below, the way the sunlight hit the green and made it more vibrant than usual. All the way to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and back, my hands and nose and head cold, but smiling because look at the sunset. Down to the waterfront, where, standing there in the late Fall wind, you feel like you’re somehow connected to everything.
It’s nearly the end of the semester and I know it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of homework, the stress of college, but don’t forget the big picture and don’t forget to explore.