Since November 2013, I’ve not had a driver’s license. It’s been rough… but it was my fault for drinking and driving…and I bravely stood and took my punishment as such.
Since I’ve been back to the Carolinas in December 2013… I’ve been walking to and from work. (With the exceptions of being picked up or finding a ride in the evenings when it’s too dark to walk home.) I’ve walked through snow, sleet, rain, crazy humidity, blazing sun and fog (the most terrifying of these, since my walking route has zero sidewalks and I walk on the road.) At first I really didn’t think much of it, I was just so happy to have a job that I could walk to and from my home after losing my license. I’m sure your wondering how far I actually walk, It’s .98 miles one way… which really isn’t far. It takes me about twenty minutes now to walk to work, a little longer if it’s hot… because, well, I don’t want to show up to work stANKin’.
After the winter snow melted at the beginning of the year in 2014, things got a little easier. I traded in my snow boots and freezing face for shorts and flip flops. Spring brought a very introspective time of walking… I would wake up and head to work with the sun just peaking up into the sky. With nothing but time on my hands as I made my way to work, I often pondered my life’s status. I thought about things like how grateful I was for having a job… how wonderfully blessed I was to have a strong support system of people who love and take care of me…and mostly how I felt “for-real” happy for the first time in quite a while. I felt “good things” because a midst what many people might consider a struggle, I was overcoming and continuing to try and improve my life. I wasn’t allowing my circumstances to hold me back from doing something with my life.
Summer brought 90-100 degree days and hot, sweaty walks. But more so, it brought a continued reminder that i was Half-Way There. Half my time had been served since losing my license. I realized how much of an accomplishment that was… and how quickly time had passed. Actually, I was amazed how quickly time had passed. One would think that not being able to do anything like your used to without the ability to drive would make time drag on.
However, it was not all introspection and “feel good” moments. Every grocery trip, pet’s need, feminine emergency, or simple yearning to get out of the house had to be meticulously planned and cautiously requested from my boyfriend or friends. Always feeling like you’ve reverted to childhood and are no longer in charge of your own freedom to go where you want or do what you want to do. Many moments (especially on rainy days) I had minor moments of panic and dread when I thought about having to be to work within the hour. Always unsure of what i’d need to do to get where I needed to go.
That being said, this whole experience taught me ten-fold what it cost me. (which really is going to be about 10 grand once my insurance is finally all paid up and this DWI drops off my record… and I thought all those commercials and signs were just being ridiculous.) So $10,000 later, i’ve learned 100,000 lessons 🙂
Okay maybe not that many, but this life lesson was priceless.
As Fall is settling in upon us, I’m realizing that it’s already October and my Year of Walking is almost over.
In the morning I walk through crisp leaves and a barely present sun rising into the sky… and at night I avidly await a ride from the love of my life, as it’s too dark to walk home after work anymore. I will forever be grateful to that amazing man for rarely ever complaining about having to come pick me up from work. I think the first time he actually complained was about 8 months into giving me a ride when I needed it… and afterwards he said he was joking anyway.
Mostly now I just can’t wait to be able to drive again. Driving wasn’t just a privilege for me, it was one of my favorite things to do! It was my escape from things that bogged me down in life. I keep day-dreaming about all the adventures I’ll go on once I get my license back… and the rolling hills I will drive past… the feel of wind on my left arm as it hangs out the driver’s side window…. being able to get in the car and take care of my own damn self instead of relying on others. But sadly, many days I just dream of the ability to drive myself to the gas station when i’m craving a Fountain Diet Coke… and driving off into the sunset with that bubbly goodness sitting in my center counsel…. ah, bliss.
To everything there is good and bad, what’s important is that you take the bad for what it was and allow only the good things to have a long-term impact on your soul.
My Year of Walking Lessons Learned:
– You never need fast food like you think you do.
-You only need to go out and get something about half the time… maybe even only a tenth of the time… learn to re-evaluate whats really important… you don’t need a new outfit, you just want to go shopping.
-People are on their cell phones way too much. Stop texting and driving… even calling and driving. If you don’t understand why i’m saying this is a problem: walk alongside the road for a reasonable amount of time during a high-traffic time of day… you WILL almost be hit if YOUR not watching people driving at you. Guaranteed, every time, the person who just about takes your right arm off WILL have their phone in their hand. PAY ATTENTION TO ALL THINGS ON THE ROAD WHEN YOU DRIVE!
-Simply walking for at least a half hour a day, allows you to eat more than you are eating now.… sadly it also makes you think you can eat worse than your eating now and still look the same (the second statement is NOT true… you still have to eat healthy most of the time.)
-If your mind feels bogged down, go for a walk... there is something amazing about the connection between the body and mind. The physical action of moving one foot in front of the other.. moving forward in a consistent motion.. just gets thoughts flowing. It allows you the freedom to think without the fear of being judged. There is no one around to get into your thoughts. There are no pressing decisions to make (your walking, your not at home near a phone/laptop/calendar that would allow you to do anything about your decisions anyway. It’s just you and the pavement/ gravel/ grass…
-Many of the people who drive, are complete A-Holes when it comes to pedestrians. I have been honked at, called terrible names via dumb teenage passerby’s, flicked off by teenage girls (mostly teenagers are rude), and been waved at to get off the road… because heaven forbid their vehicle has to move a few inches towards the center line to safely go around me (the rules in my state are clear and i’m allowed to walk there if there is no side walk… if it upsets you, build me a sidewalk.)
-My friends and family are truly good people and are 100% amazing. From the beginning up north when my mom and dad had to drive me to work… until now that i’m back in the south and can walk to work but need help getting anywhere else. Every time i’m in real need of something Will or one of my wonderful friends is there to help me (more often than not Miss Brittney is my saving grace friend, and i’m eternally grateful.)
-Walking is truly under-utilized…. seriously, people drive way too much. I know i won’t be walking to work when I get my license back— actually I might… when i need a good therapy session or when it’s just beautiful outside and I could use the fresh air, I may yearn for a nice walk to work. However, regardless how far you live from your job… there is somewhere you can either substitute walking for driving OR forgo driving because you don’t actually need to go where your trying to go.
-Wearing new flip flops when going for a long walk, is a bad idea. The calluses were so not worth it.
-Walking allows you to re-evaluate your time. Thought you really needed to sleep in those extra twenty min before work? Nope… don’t worry the fresh air will walk you up. (mostly)
-Always be prepared. From umbrellas to deodorant. I’m a planner, I enjoy prepping for things… and even though I’ve yet to use my .99 cent poncho, i’m always happy I have it in my bag when those clouds roll into the horizon.
-LASTLY: Everything in life truly does happen for a reason. And there is no situation that is so bad, that good cannot come from it. Even when you feel like life is over… it’s just the beginning of a new chapter, a new time to experience what you’ve been dealt and become a better person from it.
This year, I’ve taken my Life Statement to heart and realized it’s full meaning more than I ever have:
Life is What You Make it.