Austin and I are fortunate to live in a beautiful downtown neighbourhood that’s also a short walk together to work — about 20 minutes each morning and night.

There’s a lot you learn walking, without distraction, five mornings and evenings a week with your husband, looking toward the same things. It’s different from being together in a car or on a subway or sitting across a table. Holding hands, taking in the air and figuring through matters big and small as you both take steps forward. It’s an act imbued with lovely symbolism. These are times for pondering the now and the future, the little and big ways we make our marriage and our days, walking down the roads of life.

We recently moved back to Cabbagetown, and our daily walks are such a big reason why we chose this neighbourhood. There’s something luxurious about living close enough to both our offices for a short commute by foot, but far enough away for mental separation. It’s huge to live downtown with everything Toronto offers within close distance, but still in a residential neighbourhood of old Victorian homes and magical parks and friendly neighbours with friendly dogs to stop and pet (as my husband patiently waits).

During our one-year experiment in condo living — where we could see work and campus right from our windows — this separation and community is what we missed. The mental and physical divide offered by these walks. The feeling of passing through a front door, into an old home, with nooks and crannies and stories, versus a sterile condo tower with a doorman and mail slots and storeys. We enjoyed the conveniences of condo living, but we missed the the little, beautiful inconveniences of home.

It surely takes discipline and constancy to make these daily treks together — getting lunch packed, making breakfast, scrambling around my blinking Blackberry, waking up with time to spare so as not to be tempted by transit. I’m grateful that Austin, who could just as easily work from home, chooses to make the trek to his campus office each day. I’m grateful he too recognizes our daily forty minute fortune of sacred space, spent just us two, figuring things out.

Where we choose to make our homes (if we are so lucky) has an immense effect on our well being. Our living circumstances through the years, with subway commutes, barely-there commutes and now a medium-sized one by foot, have taught us that as a family, we walk together. We are better when we walk.  And so will find ways to keep doing so through our days.

(Photo: Magnolias on our walk, my own)

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