These Are Not My Lilacs

I take a walk every day. It’s not virtuous. I just like to watch the step count tick up. It feels like progress. It’s not.

But I made a deal with myself (the devil you know): I get to start running again when I get my average step goal to 10,000. My Garmin’s name is Gloria Estepon and she arbitrarily increases the daily goal the more I walk. Today, we’re at 7, 814.

The reason for setting this goal is so boring. When I started working from home last year, I started getting weird injuries. Knee pain. Hip pain. Shin pain. Toe pain. And I finally figured out it was because I used to be so active when I went into the office but working from home I barely broke 1,000 steps a day. So, when I did go out for a run or a bike ride I’d end up getting hurt. And that’s a real bummer because exercise brings me a lot of joy.

10,000 steps is an arbitrary sign of readiness.

We moved to the neighborhood we’re in now for the park. It’s not a grand, fancy park but it has a playground and a walking loop that connects to the actual recreational path that follows the old railroad tracks through our community. Normally, I bike through the park to get to wherever it is I actually want to go. These days, I go to the park.

Around and around I walk past the empty volleyball courts and infuriatingly busy basketball court where the teens still hang out. I want to yell at them to get off my lawn and it makes me feel old and sad.

When I first started walking every day as an escape from quarantine, it was still functionally winter. No leaves on the trees, grass still brown, backyards without annuals. I walk and walk and notice little changes every day like that one tree has flowered and another one’s leaves are finally coming through.

I’ve been watching two lilac bushes for a month.

Lilacs are my favorite flower by a country mile and I’ve been eagerly anticipating their arrival. Since they bloomed last week, I’ve risked looking like a colorful neighborhood character by walking up to them and taking a big ol’ whiff. Twice. Then I get back on the path and walk some more.

Each lilac bush belongs to a different yard that backs up to the walking path and planted on the outside of the fence. I think it’s technically trespassing when I take those few steps up to the lilac bush, but why would you plant something like that on the outside of a fence if you didn’t want people to enjoy it? Perhaps from a distance.

Lilac season only lasts for a week or two at most. Walk. Sniff. Walk. Sniff.

I’m going to have to find a reason to keep walking that loop after the flowers fall.