Today I took a walk.
I remember when studying abroad in England how the thing to do Sundays was go walking in the country. Of course, England had gorgeous country paths and hamlets in between city suburbs, so it wasn’t hard to find a beautiful place to go. When I woke up today, I wanted to go walking, but without an easily accessible English countryside to visit, I headed down King Street.
If you are unfamiliar with Alexandria, it is the original port town for Washington, DC. It has been home to everything from breweries to torpedo factories, and the city has done a fabulous job of keeping that history alive. The sidewalks are brick and the historic buildings have been maintained very well over the years. If you are looking for deep, historical roots, this is one of the better places to move in the United States, although there are many other cities with histories even older. There are several neighborhoods, the most famous being Old Town, home to King Street. The other best-known is Del Ray, a little further northeast. Both are filled with wonderful food, unique shopping destinations, and so many dogs. Seriously, if you have puppy fever like I do, you will have plenty of smiling canine faces to look at walking down the street. It is a relatively short journey from downtown DC, so if you ever crave the hustle and bustle of a larger city, its not far away.
I found as I walked down the cobblestone sidewalks next to a hodgepodge of buildings from different centuries and decades in those centuries I felt peaceful. Its a peace you only find when you know you are home. Never had I ever thought I would move to the DC area, let alone Alexandria, but you realize God puts you in the right place at the right time, but its not always what you planned on.
Originally, after I graduated college, my plan was to head back to Chicagoland and find a job there, staying close-to or in my parent’s home. Instead, a week after I graduated I received my first job offer, and a week after that I was moving into my first apartment. I still remember my first day alone. Right after my mom and aunt left, I cried for awhile. Took a nap. And then I got up and went exploring. Much like today I took a walk.
That first solo walk was unfamiliar, exciting, and new. My heart was pounding and my feet took each step with anticipation, not knowing what this street, and this city, would come to mean to me later on.
Today’s walk was sure-footed, familiar, and calm. I’ve walked down King Street hundreds of times, but I always keep my eyes open for something new. Each time, I notice something different — the detailing on top of a building, a faded sign, or a side street — and almost feel like that first walk again. But now, I have the comfort of knowing I am home, and the feeling of home is what gives that inner peace.
We all deserve to feel that peace of home. If it’s been awhile since you reconnected with the sidewalks of your city, go ahead and take a walk. Don’t keep a particular destination in mind, just start walking. Look around. Notice everything. Breathe in the air. Stop for a second and take in a panoramic view. Feel the joy of your home and the area it is in.
Alexandria may not be my home forever, but it will always be the first one I had independently of anyone else. It was my first home.
xx raina xx