when i was a sophomore in college, i got the incredible opportunity to study abroad in france. paris, to be exact. the classes didn’t have anything to do with my public relations major, which i adored. instead, they were focused on art, film, theater, literature. the only subjects appropriate for paris, at that time the cultural capital of the world in my eyes.
one day my film professor asked us to wander aimlessly around the city and document our experiences. the idea is that cities, based their aesthetic, feel, sounds, aromas, character, etc., lead us to certain unexpected places. it was all about being conscious and intentional of every decision you made in the processing of wandering around aimlessly. why’d you make a right there? why not a left? what metro line did you take? what stop did you choose? i loved the exercise and ended up in a part of paris i had yet to experience.
exactly ten years later, i found myself on a similar adventure in my very own neighborhood. on saturday mornings i’d routinely suit up and head to either a dance exercise class or an outdoor *grueling* lower body workout. but this saturday i chose to go for a leisurely walk. my lower back has been tender and i decided a walk might be a better choice instead of dancing, jumping and squatting and lifting.
so i left my house at 10am to begin my derivé. i decided to walk for two hours down main streets as i casually made my way to a friend’s apartment. i visit this friend often, zooming past traffic straight through her familiar neighborhood. however, today’s experience created an opportunity to perceive the “familiar” as entirely different. i noticed every store, every building, every residence as i walked through streets i thought i knew all too well. i was able to appreciate monuments and artwork fully, not out of the corner of my eye as i drove past, but really engage with the piece. i experienced a sense of paralyzingly fear as i tried to cross US-1, one of miami’s largest and busiest thoroughways. nothing like a cars zooming past you to remind you you’re alive!
i had fun sharing pics and videos on my snapchat–as i gave followers a virtual tour of my surrounding neighborhood. i did not listen to music or distract myself as i reached my final destination. instead i chose to listen to every sound, read each storefront title, take a peek inside if possible, and ponder the life of these blocks at the height of their bustling business days.
once i reached my friend’s house i felt accomplished and satisfied with this newfound relationship. me and my neighborhood. ❤️🏠
in miami, no one likes to walk. it’s too hot, they say. fair. but there’s so much more to gain by putting yourself in the elements. here’s my two cents: when you can, get outside, notice 10 new storefronts or houses or buildings or street names that you hadn’t before. and if these new experiences in familiar areas dont light up your dopamine receptors like they did mine, then..i will individually apologize to each of you!
you have my word. explore!