For most of my life I’ve considered myself an indoor sort of person. I viewed central heating as one of the greatest wonders of the modern age, and wished my parents used ours much more aggressively. And although I walked to school for most of my childhood, I rarely enjoyed it. In my dreams, there were enclosed, climate-controlled, clear tubes for pedestrians that would take me wherever I wanted to go.
When I moved to the Twin Cities in college I couldn’t have been more surprised to learn that such things actually existed, in the form of the Minneapolis skyway system. Who knew?
So anyway, for most of my life I enjoyed walking but hated being outdoors most of the time, which I admit is sort of schizo. This ambivalence hasn’t always led me to make the most healthful choices. When I was in the middle of writing my dissertation, I went for a few days without leaving the apartment at all, which was just as appalling as it sounds.
I’ve come around in the last few years, assisted by the resolutely temperate climate of San Francisco. It’s frequently foggy and windy, but rarely cold and never hot. Before we ever started riding bikes I walked to work through Golden Gate Park, which is time consuming but has no shortage of great views. We also live close enough to the park that I’ve often taken walks there in the evening after the kids went to bed when Matt was working late. After dark, it’s just me and the skunks.
I’ve been surprised to find that starting to ride our bikes around the city has done something I never expected: it’s made me want to be outside every day. There are days that I don’t ride a bike, often when we’re walking around the neighborhood instead. But I can’t remember the last time I didn’t feel an overwhelming urge to spend some time outdoors before noon.
I started riding thinking that the freedom of riding the bike, which to me mostly meant not being dependent on the bus schedule or stuck in traffic, was worth the extra time outdoors (and that it would be good for me anyway). I couldn’t have been more surprised to learn that all that extra time outdoors made me want to be outdoors even more.