My days off are usually spent like this:
Today, for some reason, was different.
Oh, I started off doing the normal things. I even made a to-do list for such an occasion. It read: “Wake up. Coffee. Silence.” Et cetera. It’s been a long, packed week, and my soul has been craving the usual life-giving, down-time activities.
But about the time I took Gordon (the pug) outside for his morning bathroom visit (which ended up being in the early afternoon; he’s a trooper) and by the time I’d eaten my lunch (a random mix of whatever I had in the ref), I felt a strong urge to explore.
To go outside my apartment.
To put on shoes suitable for walking. To lock the door behind me. To have a rough idea of a plan but no set goals or directions.
This, my friends, is a strange feeling.
For the past ten months of living in a city, a foreign city, I’ve used my days off as a day of retreat. A day to retreat from traffic, from pollution, from the heat, and from my own inability to communicate.
But today, for some reason, was different.
And so I donned my walking shoes and packed my small backpack (because a backpack is more adventurous than a purse). I brought the necessities: water, money, an extra shopping bag just in case. I grabbed my cell phone and keys and walked out the door.
As I waited for and then journeyed down the elevator, I pondered why the sudden courage. Why the desire for fresh air, no matter the pollution and the traffic? Why the change of heart? The next thing on my to-do list was to sit down and write. I’d been mulling over a few more writing pieces and was eager to put them to words. But instead I decided that this time, its as better to live a story than to write one.
The air felt cooler at the start and this may be one of the factors that called me outside. There’s a breeze and it feels like my concept of late June and I can see the mountains beyond the city from my balcony.
I walked toward a market (which happened to be closed on Mondays) and I decided to look for the wildlife in the city around me. I chucked when I named the drainage “flowing stream” and the weeds “plant life.” I was changing the way I see. For a while, the city around me became a jungle to explore rather than concrete to walk through. The people around me became people to smile at rather than threats to reveal my own inadequacy.
I walked and I noticed and I felt joy. The surplus store didn’t have any planters and the market and new coffee shop were closed and I continued on. I bought ingredients to bake doughnuts and I treated myself to a can of ginger ale.
Coming home I felt satisfied and eager (there are still doughnuts to be made, after all). I felt confident and as if the city around me is less scary. My communication is growing (thanks to my patient friends and language teachers) and I’m feeling more and more convinced that a smile really does cross language barriers. I’m learning to see with new eyes and embrace hard things with a renewed heart. My stomach, on the other hand, is now longing for those doughnuts.