So yesterday, while Emily was at work, I decided to take a walk. The temperature was in the sixties, and I just couldn't pass up such a beautiful day sitting inside doing nothing. Emily and I had walked to a nearby forest preserve park the other day and I decided to do it again. Well, what took us about forty five minutes to do last time, I walked in fifteen minutes. Trails weave in and out of the parks, connecting them throughout the southwest Chicago suburbs. So, I decided to keep going and followed one of these trails. I ended up and the Hidden Pond Park which is a lot farther than I had expected to go. By now it was six o'clock and I had been walking for a half hour. I did not know if I should head home yet or not... so I just kept walking. I departed from the trail, knowing it would only take me further south and away from home, and ended up on 95th street. At this point I could have turned down Kean Avenue and gotten home in about twenty minutes, but instead I kept walking down 95th. I eventually walked to Cork Avenue, which would take me straight back to my apartment in ten minutes. I still did not feel like going back and kept walking. I walked to Roberts Road, which is a mile east of my apartments, and stopped at a gas station for a bottle of water. After a moment of reflection I decided to head back. I knew I still had roughly two miles of walking to do, since i would have one mile to walk north of Robert's and one mile to walk west on 87th Street. This section of my walk was the most interesting.
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Two hours and 6.3 miles of walking.
I started seeing all the restaurants and shops on Robert's road up close and realized that Hickory Hills is a small area. While I knew it wasn't very large, like most the towns scattered through this area, it still seemed large to me. It was intimidating, impersonal, and foreign. Until my walk yesterday. After experiencing the area first hand, and not through the glass windows of my car, my understanding of the area changed. It became personal. It became real. Sometimes when we see things from inside of our cars or through plates of glass, things are less tangible and almost 'displayed' like we're watching a television screen. But when you right next to something and there is nothing but air between you and it, stuff becomes permanent and tangible. Now I know why people like convertables so much. Things are just different when viewed through glass.
For a while now we've felt like bad stuff just lurks in the inside workings of the area. But after my walk, just seeing normal people out and about and doing the same thing I was doing, the fear was gone. In a way I now owned the area. It was mine. Maybe not legally, but emotionally I had conquered it and made it my own. I known that people are territorial, not in the sense of gang territory, but people do have their 'stomping grounds'. My old stomping grounds were Bellevue and Battle Creek. Those places were personal to me. I owned them. But I can't be there now. Emily and I have been confined, voluntarily, to our apartment for most of the year that we've lived here. So getting out into the area and expanding my knowledge and emotional attachment was exhilarating. We may not own our apartment, but we feel like it is ours. We own it emotionally. And until yesterday it, and our workplaces, were all that we owned. I've felt very claustrophobic out here. Yesterday helped to ease that. I've never considered the grassy areas of our apartment to be any sort of personal lawn, but yesterday I did. When I finally got home from my walk I sat down on the stairs out from of the building and just rested. Those were my steps, this was my apartment complex, and this was my town.
I owned it.
Yes, I understand we live in Justice, but that is really only a technicaliy. We live in the absolute most southwest corner of Justice. LITERALLY, across the street of our apartment complex is Hickory Hills. Their Police Department is kiddy corner to us. It is the area that I consider our area over the northern Justice area.
Anyways, I am excited to be able to take Emily out on a walk like this. I don't know if my reaction is a male domination thing or whatever. I just know I see things differently now. This town is not as impersonal anymore. There is still a lot for me to learn and discover, but I don't feel like I am a guest anymore. I feel like a neighbor. I live here now.