I was staying with family in the amazing city of Ojai, California. Not far from the seaside town of Ventura, this beautiful town sits in a valley surrounded by mountains on all sides. Ojai means "Valley of the Moon" in the Chumash Indian language, so fitting for the bowl shaped bustling small city that was full of artists, actors, fine glass and jewelry shops, boutiques that sold clothing from far off countries and several fantastic bookstores that were so welcoming. Factoid: Ojai Valley is one of two valleys in the world that run East to West, not North and South. The other is in Tibet. Ojai was also the town that the Bionic Woman was from, in case any of you out there are old enough to know Lindsey Wagner and the character that she played on the popular TV show.
Photo courtesy of Flickr
What stunning scenery I awoke to every morning and I was always eager to take advantage of the landscape, the views, the smells of the fragrant flowers that seemed to grow wild, the peaceful sound of the birds chirping. I could not wait to take it all in, to enjoy it while I was there. So every day I took an hour walk. I explored all there was to see in Ojai. The quaint downtown area, the peaceful Libby Park (which is now the centerpiece of town) is were I would sometimes sit and watch the kids play or catch a grueling tennis match at the public courts. I walked down quite streets covered with trees and lined driveways of rock.
One day I took a right on a street where I had not yet been. Before me was this rather steady grade of a street that lead to a glimpse of what looked like a mountain I had not noticed before. It looked brutal, that hill. For some reason, I went for it and huffed all the way to the top of the street. I stopped and looked behind me and realized just how steep the street really was ... I could not see where I came from! It was an amazing feat for a woman in my condition. It felt great to be at the top, heart beating steady and deep, sweat escaping my skin and the water that I had with me tasted better than any water I had ever had in my life. Everything was so vivid, so alive. In all of this self gratification, I turned to look around me and was amazed. The colors were many ... reds, blues, purples, yellows, corals, you name it I think I saw it. About 60 degrees to my right was this mountain that looked to be RIGHT THERE! Not sure if you have ever seen a mountain, but they are quite deceiving in their size. What you think is right there is really about a mile away. But this, I could see the vegetation on the graduating slopes. I just stood there and took it all in for a while.
This little route started to become my routine three days a week. I often had my Walkman, that's right ... I said Walkman! (remember, this was the early 90's, eons before iPhonemania) and more than any other TAPE I had, the Red Hot Chili Peppers was my walking music of choice. I walked to think. I walked to let the anxiety go. I walked to enjoy what I was fortunate enough to have, and that was a family who was hosting me in their home so that I could be more comfortable in my pregnancy. I walked to clear my head of all the things I knew before, to try to gain some new perspective on how life would be after the boys were gone. I walked in order to get into shape physically to birth two children at once because the doctor clearly told me that he would NOT be allowing me to have drugs. Something about the multiple birth situation. I thought he was overprotective, but he turned out to be right. I wanted to get out every day to think for myself and what I got in return was the most phenomenal pair of legs I had ever had. What a bonus! Oh, and let's not forget about my butt! WOW! I mean, all those hills, both up and down, with a belly full of baby, along with very healthy eating lead to much more than I was asking for. They were muscular and lean. My whole body was slimmer from all the great exercise I was getting, and it did not feel like exercise at all! That was the best part.
One day, about two weeks before I delivered, I was about half way up the hill and my tape needed to be turned over so I could hear everything around me. I noticed the sound of a truck coming up the hill behind me and I moved a little closer to the cars out of courtesy. The truck was not going fast at all, kind of lazy up the street but I thought nothing of it as I worked to get the music going again. The closer the truck got, the clearer the voices were and I could hear what the occupants were saying. They were scoping out the blonde with the legs and asking if I was going somewhere. I smiled. First I was flattered that they were catcalling me, something I don't recall ever happening before. But most of all, I knew that this giant beach ball was hanging off the front of those awesome legs and I knew that the shock of it would just crush their fun. They were slowing down and speeding up, all the while staying behind me but trying to entice me. I set up the music so that it was ready to begin, but I paused it. I stopped walking and just stood there. They were all excited, starting to ask what my name was. I slowly turned around, put my hand on my hip and waved to them. Soon the tires were squealing, their faces were red as a fire engine and the burnt rubber smell hit my nose before the smoke made it to the spot where I stood. They were already at the top of the street. Anthony Keidis began to sing to me. It was a sultry, sexy kind of song and I found it very fitting since I was just rejected in the street by some guys who were saying the same things before they saw the belly. I had a good laugh about it, and so did my cousins later that night.
In that moment of surprising those boys, I knew that I was going to be alright. I still had my sense of humor and that was a good sign. Besides, I was facing a giant shopping trip to purchase a whole new wardrobe because all that thinking, analyzing, comprehending, pondering and walking did produced a very fine set of gams.
I think maybe I will start walking again.