Take a Vacation In Your Neighborhood

Stop sign on busy street

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I’ve been trying to go for a run every day in the morning while under the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. No, I have not been able to keep up the goal of “everyday,” let’s get that out there straight away. But that hasn’t dissuaded me from continuing to try and not beat myself up for the days I miss. 

The track by my house is closed and locked now, too many people had been using it and not social distancing. Us middle-aged and senior joggers are like kindergartners who didn’t follow the rules and now it’s gotten us shut out of our playground. That’s forced me to break out of my usual 3-5 laps around the track routine and instead tackle the hilly streets by my house. 

Yesterday I decided I’d go right instead of left and explore some streets I hadn’t been down in more than a few months. I decided to jog through the parking lots of our local nursing home and take in the well-manicured gardens and architecture of this massive neo-Victorian cheery yellow building. I looked at the tiny little yards of the active living residents and took a path through a sidewalk of arching trees. It was as I turned this corner that opens to a gazebo and more plantings that the thought crossed my mind, “What if this was vacation?” 

“What if I wasn’t around the block from my house, but hundreds of miles away? What if I was running here after waking up in my bed & breakfast? What if I traveled hours to get here, paid good money to stay here? How special would this run feel? 

I let that train of thought continue by answering those questions: I would feel contented, like I often feel on vacation and think something to myself like “This place is so quaint and pretty, wouldn’t it be nice to live here!?” 

And that’s when it struck me, it was nice to live here, I was living here! But I was starting to see things with new eyes — tourist eyes. Tourist eyes see the special in everything, mostly because they know they might not get back there again to see those things anytime soon. Our tourist eyes feel the sense of urgency our home eyes do not. Home eyes are often on auto-pilot, taking in just what’s necessary to get through the day. But they are the same eyes, it’s just how we’re seeing things that have changed. 

I enjoyed my “tourist run,” thinking about it with more precious, fleeting emotions than had it just been “the run to get out of the house I’m stuck in for who-knows how much longer.” It got me thinking of other ways to feel that same perspective shift. Are you ready to play some pretend?

  • I’m going to try to pretend me and my SO are having a first date dinner. We didn’t have agendas or to-do lists for each other when we first met. Instead I had butterflies and a mix of relief and excitement that he was more handsome than his profile pictures. We won’t be going to a bar at the top of a sky-scraper like our actual first date, but I will be curious and engaged in finding out more about him rather than ready to ask if he’s going to put the hinges on the entertainment center soon or plans to get the nail clipper out of the bathroom drain this weekend (although I really want to ask this!). 
  • What are your favorite beach books or vacation-reads? I love taking books on vacation with me and making time to find a place outdoors to read. I never think to do that when I’m home however and now’s a good chance.
  • What do you like most about staying at a hotel? How can you make your bedroom feel more like that type of retreat?
  • Take a walk around your neighborhood. When you step outside, try to visualize you are stepping out of a guesthouse or beach house (whatever retreat you like best!) and taking a walk in a new area. Take some deep breaths and feel the temperature of the air as it fills your lungs. Take in the sky. Stop for a moment and close your eyes and take in the sounds around you. What do you see that catches your eye in this new place? Take 15 minutes or as much time as you can to go on your little getaway. If you feel up to it, jot down afterwards what you noticed that you hadn’t noticed before, what you’re grateful for experiencing and what felt different about this walk. 
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