Friday, September 21, 2012

A morning walk

For the past couple of months, ever since I started going to Crossfit, I've been doing the same half hour walk across my neighborhood at 6:30 in the morning to go the gym. The walk, well and the price, was actually my greatest reservation about joining up (especially as I am within a 7-minute walk of another Crossfit gym). So far I don't mind the getting up early (I vastly prefer it to psyching myself up about going to the gym in the evenings), and so far the walk doesn't bother me. I'm a little concerned about how winter will change both of these things as it's already getting to where it's almost dark when my alarm goes off in the morning, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I realized one of my favorite parts of my routine is my morning walk. Those who currently do or have ever lived with me know that I am a morning person in the sense that I tend to wake up early naturally. However, I am not a morning person in that I like to talk to people first thing in the morning and can be rather grouchy until I've had my moment of zen. In fact, when I worked in an office regularly, I used to come in a half hour early partly to beat rush hour on the subway and partly because I liked being there and checking my email before anyone else got there and wanted to chat. Getting out and walking has the same effect. It's meditative. I can think of everything I plan to do that day or everything I did the day before, whatever thoughts I want or no thoughts at all. Before I get to the gym and focus on chit chatting and preparing myself for the day's workout, it's the perfect transition. It's a lovely interval of calm in between my alarm going off and rushing to get ready and then pushing myself at the gym.

Astoria in the morning. Isn't that lovely? Like an Astorian dream, really.

Despite being through a bustling neighborhood in a big city, the walk is fairly quiet. There are generally not too many people out (well except today, when I passed an AT&T store and there were about 25 people in line waiting for the new iPhone. Not sure when the store actually opened, but they were all still there when I talked by again a little after 8...). I've started to recognize those faces I do see. There is the Indian newspaper man who gives out the free paper by the train. Every single day that I see him he offers me a paper, and every day I refuse one but return his "good morning." I would think after this long he would know I will never take a paper with me to the gym, but he's friendly enough. Then there is the old man who is always washing the sidewalk outside his tire store. I'm not sure what his aim is, but his sidewalk doesn't look any cleaner than the rest. On trash days there are often a gaggle of sanitation workers drinking coffee by their trucks before their shift (or perhaps as a break in the middle of it). There is one house I always pass that on some days has a cat in the window looking down on the street from a second story window. On other days, there is a little white dog. I sometimes wonder if they trade off this coveted perch or if each day there is a vicious battle over it and I am only witnessing the victor.

The walk back after the gym is a nice cool down, but it's not quite the same as the walk there. By then the streets are bustling and everyone is on their way somewhere. And I'm on my way home ready to start the work day. I know that when it's cold and truly dark and with layers of snow on the ground, I will suck it up and pay the $2.25 to take the train or the bus, but I will miss the early morning walk times.

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