Earlier this week, I set out for an after dinner walk around the neighborhood. I’ve always been a fan of walking, and after dinner walks in particular are a great way to clear my mind and wind down for the evening. I was particularly excited for this walk, as I was listening to Elin Hilderbrand’s latest audiobook The Identicals and I couldn’t wait to find out what twin sisters Harper and Tabitha would do next.
I loaded up the audiobook, put on my headphones. The sun was sinking, the air was brisk. I started up the book and started the timer on my GPS watch. Three miles of bliss. I took the first few steps, sinking into the words of the audiobook and suddenly stopped.
In the back of my mind I knew something was off, but it took me a moment to figure out what it was. I looked down at my hands. In one, I held my mp3 player. The other was empty.
That hand wasn’t supposed to be empty.
It was supposed to be holding the key to my house.
Knowing the answer, but hoping I was wrong, I walked back to my front door to see if I had left it unlocked. (I have never once left my front door unlocked, but I had also never left without my keys, so I was hoping there was a first time for two things.)
The door was locked.
And I was outside with no keys, and no phone.
I looked around—the neighborhood was empty, of course. Neither of my two neighbors were home. I could just start walking down the street knocking on every door, but that wasn’t an appealing thought.
Four people have a key to my house, but the closest by far is my parents. They live ten minutes away.
Ten minutes away by car.
How many minutes did they live by foot?
I was about to find out.
I left my GPS watch running and hit the road. I was out for some exercise, after all. I was just going to get a little more than I’d bargained for.
Walking on roads I’ve driven thousands of times is a bit disorienting. I never noticed the trash on the side of the highways—plastic bags, beer bottles and cans, a smashed iPhone. But I also never noticed the trees along the way, the leaves, and the chirping birds.
I was lucky. I didn’t run across any roadkill or creepy hitchhikers. I made the walk to my parent’s house in forty-five uneventful—and surprisingly peaceful—minutes.
When I rounded the corner of the street I grew up on, the house I grew up on came into view. And there were my parents, just as I knew they would be, sitting side-by-side on the front porch reading. Mom looked up first, and I saw surprise flash across her face when she recognized me.
I spent a few minutes on the porch with them, when we all updated one another on what we were reading—Dad was reading a Jack Reacher novel, and Mom had just finished The Identicals herself. After that, Dad drove me home and let me in to my own house, and I walked in to see my keys on the tray by the door, as always.
We live in an age of cars, and smartphones, and thank god for it. But it’s nice to know that sometimes you can solve your problems with your own feet and a little help from the people who love you most.