dromomania: an exaggerated desire to wander
– Merriam Webster Dictionary
So much of my free time has consisted of walking outings in one form or another these past few years. I thought it would be interesting to think back to my first walk. Or at least the earliest I can recall.
My earliest memory of going for a walk, I must have been about four or five years old. I don’t recall the trigger that led to the desire for a walk. Nor do I recall the events immediately following. I do recall a feeling of defiance and wanting to do something independent and in my control. I also recall feeling the need for the walk to be to somewhere… to have a destination. So I picked a place (it may have been my Godfather’s place?) and off I went.
I traveled the 30 feet or so down our cement driveway, past the threshold of our property and onto the sidewalk. Now in the wilderness, I ambled next to the parking strip. Strawberry plants formed a barrier between the sidewalk and our front lawn. Hungry neighbors had picked these over.
As I traveled the next 40 feet or so to the property line, I felt the sun on my face. I looked up at the blue sky beyond a pair of power lines that went past my childhood home. Boldness came over me. I started on my way out of our little residential grid, headed toward the Ventura highway. I could already hear the cars on the busy highway.
I walked another 100 feet or so to the end of the block. Each step added to the furthest distance I had ever been away from home alone. I saw houses that were at once both familiar and unfamiliar. I stood there for what seemed like hours (but more likely a minute). This is when I realized I did not know the way to my destination. For a moment, I was frozen in place, unable to move forward.
Without a direction, I headed back home in a hurry.
I wonder how much of that walk I still carry with me.