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Exploring a neighborhood like a kid on a bicycle


Even though many years have gone by for me, I've never outgrown my enjoyment of exploring a neighborhood the way I did when I was a kid on a bicycle. And that leaves most grownups puzzled when I say that I know a particular neighborhood well.

Grownups see the restaurants, the parking spots, the lowest price for gas. They know the quickest way to the freeway, the fastest way to drive to downtown, and about a million other things that are meaningless to kids, and to me.

I first started doing this in my neighborhood in Minneapolis, where I grew up. I left there at age 19 and the people that I talk to can hardly believe that I lived there. I don't know any of things they know - you know, the restaurants, the parking spots, the lowest price for gas, the quickest way to the freeway. But I knew that neighborhood in the intimate way that only a kid would know it. When I moved away, to Phoenix, I did the same thing. I knew the neighborhood by Lopers just that way, I knew the neighborhood in Tempe like that, the same with Santa Barbara, and Canoga Park, and now Glendale. I can also give tours of Calabasas, California, and Apache Junction, Arizona.

I don't know why I don't feel comfortable in a place until I've explored, that's just the way I am. If someone starts talking about the restaurants, or the parking spots, or the lowest price for gas, or which is the quickest way to get to the freeway, I tune out. I know how important that is for grownups, and I've done enough to get by as an adult, but it doesn't fascinate me. I'm sorry if that's rude, but I'm going to wander off. Walk with me.

There are some really interesting trees not far from here. I'm not exactly sure what they are, but I'm working on learning the names. It's where the road curves around by the little park. You know, the one that floods after a rain. I've gone there many times, and when I do I carry a sketchbook, or take out my camera, because that's what adults are supposed to do - they have to be accomplishing something. Kids don't need to do that, and really neither do I.

I've been with people who will say "There's nothing to see!" when my eyes are filling with wonder of what's all around me. And that makes me sad. I know the look when I point out something that fascinates me, and doesn't really resonate with grownups.

I see the world with the eyes of a child, and it's filled with wonder, and magic. You could do it at one point in your life, and if you've lost it for a while, don't worry, it will come back.

Thank you for walking with me.

Image at the top of this post: A eucalyptus tree in Glendale, Arizona

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