One of my "hobbies" is walking with various pals in Pasadena. Out of serendipity, I have certain routes particular to certain friends. The other night I met one friend on the steps of our beloved City Hall. Pasadena City Hall is majestic at any hour, but come twilight and on into evening, the lighting beckons solely to you. (Go look at this landmark on Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve or on your birthday and see if you can feel the connection to something sublime, that you may be folded into the strength of its glowing stateliness. It gives me the shivers, I tell you.) Anyway, from the City Hall steps on Garfield, we walk west on Union into Old Town.
Ladies walking = ladies talking. We are sorting out our work lives, and from there we segue into interpersonal psychology. We'll walk a loop to the fringe of Old Town and then east again along Colorado Blvd. The shopping district isn't exactly teeming, but it's populous enough that you should pay attention, especially at the scramble intersections. I think it is the patterning of walking and talking with a friend in a familiar setting that helps you calm down. Some of my workdays feel so electrifying that I need that kinesthetic logic applied like a patch.
Another walking partner happens to be my neighbor, and we meet predawn twice a week. We are mole people. In fact, until we started volunteering at the same place, I had not seen her in daylight for ages. I go out onto my street at about 5:10 a.m where we will meet. Nothing moves. And then, straight out of Sherlock Holmes, my friend materializes; I always get a kick out of her spontaneous generation. We have a circuit that we walk in about 30 minutes' time. There are topics that reflect our passage of blocks: the greeting; recounting recent past events; upcoming/ongoing projects; maybe some ranting or rending of garments; some possible solutions; the benediction until next time. Again, it's the pattern we inhabit that helps us comb out our tangled brains.
And, I have one more longtime friend with whom I have shared many adventures and even more walks. Our usual walk therapy starts at Cal Tech. You can park your car on Wilson (unless there are filming restrictions) and cross campus by the Broad Building. Cal Tech must be the brainiest place we could ever pick to stroll, but it's benign, it's quiet, and it's welcoming every time. The surrounding camphor-lined neighborhoods feel like you're walking into a Ray Bradbury story (and I mean this in the fondest way). We even make up our own speculations about the lovely homes, their warmly lit windows egging us on. On these walks we discuss our dilemmas, the sad and funny events of life (which are often one and the same), social faux pas we have committed, job challenges, travel goals, you name it. We walk 45 minutes to an hour, depending on whose dog has come along. Really, the exercise is secondary to the solace and laughter that come from these rambles.