I have made the decision that I am going to go ahead and believe in what I know is a fundamentally made up disorder: Nature Deprivation Syndrome. Lots of educators and guilt-ridden blogs written by hipster moms are real into this mess right now and my initial instinct is to scoff. But then, wait a second.
I just moved to arguably the first walkable neighborhood I've lived in in close to 6?...7?...years? Prior to this, the neighborhoods I've lived in in Washington have been, in turn: off a major highway, next to a Wal-Mart, next to a Jack-in-the-Box, next to the city jail/courthouse (good only for observing the many and varied outfits deemed appropriate for "court shit" by their wearers), and finally, next to a biker bar. None of these places ever resulted in a walking experience that ever ended in anything other than deep regret. But now! NOW!
And I don't just mean the connection with nature as in the whole flora and fauna thing, but also a connection to human nature. Living in a series of apartments, I had forgotten what house pride looks like. I love the way people care about the flowers they've planted and the color of a mailbox. And everyone knows the only reason to ever walk around at dusk is to stare in people's living room windows. It makes me feel the exact opposite of that song "Sunday Mornin', Comin' Down" I stress this only because that song is so evocative of crushing lonesomeness that I need to share the lyrics so you can appreciate its exact oppositude:
I'd smoked my brain the night before
Or I smoked so much the night before
With cigarettes and songs that I've been pickin'
My mouth was like an ashtray I'd been lickin'
But I lit my first and watched a small kid
Cussin' at a can that he was kicking
Then I crossed the empty street
And caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin' chicken
And it took me back to somethin'
That I'd lost somehow somewhere along the way
On the Sunday morning sidewalks
Wishing Lord that I was stoned
'Cause there is something in a Sunday
That makes a body feel alone
And there's nothin' short of dyin'
Half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleepin' city side walks
Sunday mornin' comin' down
Seeing those things makes me hopeful (granted, I am not battling Kris Kristofferson's 70's era demons) and connected. And smelling flowers and hearing insects and petting dogs makes everything better. I hadn't realized how much I was anesthetizing myself with tv or chores or mindless eating before I lived in a place where I had the chance to just be out of doors.
Now if only I had some grass to lay facedown in.