It had been raining all evening, and the pavement was glistening under the streetlights.
My daily walks around the community begin at approximately six in the evening, around the time the oppressive Florida heat begins to calm down.
I left New York City, and the life I had built there, a few months after my husband died. I decided to move closer to my family.
I didn’t think I would ever want to live without the hustle and bustle of the subway and the large metropolis.
But my life took a drastic turn, and without thinking twice, I chose to leave.
Life is so very different now. I can take these walks every day if I so choose. Before, they were a luxury. Funny how that happens.
There is a gentle breeze this evening. The wind blows the newly-opened Hibiscus flower growing outside my doorstep. I begin watching the flower bounce about, fluttering its petals with amazing glee. I had planted this Hibiscus tree when I moved here. I’m a little too proud watching it settle in the soil right outside my door—I could never grow anything back in New York. My apartment didn’t have enough light. Now I have all of the outdoors at my disposal. I’m happy to be able to grow colors of pink and yellow.
I turn left and start walking. I place the headphones in my ears and push the play button on my iPod. I choose the gentle voice of Damien Jurado. His voice is soothingly haunting, and the melodious strumming of the guitar entwined with the sounds of the other instruments radiate through my ears as the wind glides past my face.
My hair is up in a ponytail, yet the front strands of my hair blow back. I can smell the impending storm about to hit the neighborhood again. I keep going so that I can feel the wind hitting my body—I love the wind.
The air feels slightly heavy, for the rain wants to enter with fury. Perhaps the thunder will crash loud enough to be heard through my headphones. The clouds haven’t darkened, but I see it in the distance.
The storm is ready. I can see the palm trees sway wildly.
I feel a lizard prance on the top of my foot. Little legs barely touching my skin, just enough to make me jump a bit.
Funny how the elements of nature can calm people down. I’m not even at a park, just in my community. Back in New York, I was surrounded by buildings and concrete. I didn’t really mind it, I just hardly ever noticed the nature. It was so sparse.
Here, as I walk, I see nature amongst the homes. I realize how helpful it is as a tool for healing. I take my child sometimes, and I love how calm he gets after the walk.
I now understand why yoga teachers insist on being surrounded by nature as often as possible.
I can think clearly. I can feel how positive it has been to have moved here. I now appreciate what slow-paced life can offer. I was always walking quickly. It took a while to get used to not having to constantly run. Now, I value the time I can take to smell the roses, quite literally. Time was never there in the life I had left behind in New York.
It’s time to change the notes in my ears to Kaleo, the Icelandic blues band. I look up to find the sun peeking through the clouds, and pray that the wind doesn’t go away. To my relief, the wind still feels strong on my face, in my hair, through my shirt.
The sun reminds me that I’ve left my sunglasses at home. Onward I go, squinting slightly. I reach the end of my block, and feeling adventurous, take another left. I’d like to see the sun hit the hills and kiss the rooftops of homes over yonder. Yes, that is now my Southern speak peeking through the text, my Northern verbiage becoming evermore blended with the local vernacular. This can work.
I can feel the heat of the sun. In my ears, the beats of the song “Broken Bones” drum along. “Got no place to caaallll our ooowwn…only chaaaiins and broken bones.”
All I can think about is how much I don’t miss my old stomping ground. I think about how much I don’t miss the crowds, the buildings, the speed, the noise—just about everything. I also don’t miss not being able to take walks, except occasionally, in fall or spring. In the South, you can be outside every single day of the year.
A terrible turn of events brought me here, but I’m finally realizing the change itself isn’t so bad, after all. In fact, I know that my family and I couldn’t stay in New York any more. It didn’t make sense. We would recover here better, in new surroundings, with more nature.
I couldn’t control the event that made me move here, but I can control how I use the gift of my human senses to recover from my tragedy. I am thankful that the universe has put great colors and textures on earth for me to view, and to be able to use my senses to cope with the things that can’t be controlled.
Now the wind is dying down.
Oh, wait…not yet. The hairs are still flapping about. The beautiful wind invites me to keep going. I look at my watch. It’s time to make my way back home. I turn around. The wind now blows into my back. The front strands of my hair are flying past my nose, as if to point the way forward.
Where am I?
I see new plants, alluring and pretty, manicured lawns, blades of grass moving. I see lots and lots of color. Even with the ominous clouds of the thunderous sky, I can still see various shades of green. I also see every flower, every palm tree, and every house.
I breathe in the air, and finally feel peace and appreciation for the colors that surround me.
I love to feel the wind. Oh, how the wind feels great on my body and my soul, as it carries me back to the place I now call home.
Author: Diana Kjellgren
Image: Audrey Reid (@awaudrey/Instagram)
Apprentice Editor: Sukriti Chopra; Editor: Emily Bartran
Social Editor: Taia Butler
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