When John and I first moved to Seattle we lived in the area known as lower Queen Anne, in a ramshackle apartment with no parking and a dreary forever-damp shared laundromat. It was decidedly unfancy but offered a sweeping view of the Sound, where we could peer around the stacks of a grain mill to watch sparkling cruise ships glide into the bay alongside the dark hulking slabs of cargo ships and jaunty angled sailboats.

That’s where I can first remember going on walks together, leaving our mostly-crummy neighborhood for the spectacular mansions further up the hill. The climb to fancy upper Queen Anne is a steep one, and later when John was training to summit Mt. Rainier he would wear a backpack weighted down with milk jugs filled with water.

When we moved to Bellevue and entered the small-children stage of life we relished walking there when we could, pushing a stroller or wearing a carrier. Walks felt like a luxury, a bit of a risk during our longer loops (naptimes, diaper blowouts, feedings — it never felt like a good idea to be too far from home), and they eventually petered down to the outings that are specific to toddlerhood: a slow, short, meandering journey filled with the aching marvel of sharing their excitement (another squirrel, can you believe it) but also the frustration that comes with matching a young child’s erratic pace. (I remember joking that it felt like we were trying to ever-so-slowly escape a sandworm from Dune.)

For years we went walking as a family, and we still sometimes do. Riley will sometimes amble alongside with one Airpod in place so he can exist in his preferred state of Technically Present But Immersed in That Mumbly Hip-Hop All the Kids Are Into These Days, Dylan might ride his bike in lazy loops around us.

Most of the time, though, John and I go out on our own. The kids don’t see the appeal of walking the same path day in and day out but we sure do. Our walk — and I think of it this way, as a route that’s somehow ours alone — takes us out of our immediate neighborhood, past a park, and around some nearby streets. We move at a brisk pace for about forty minutes, passing familiar houses as we step over piles of jewel-toned leaves in the fall, navigate muddy puddles in winter, work up a sweat in the high buzz of summer.

We’ve talked about so many things on these walks. Business, friendships, the kids, their school, our lives, our future, family, current events. We’ve had walks where the things that were left unsaid hung in the air beside us, a roiling darkness we could not escape. We’ve walked in companionable silence, lost in our own thoughts and dreams.

I could not have predicted how important this ritual would become to me, how the body movement would come to feel so good and necessary, how the head-clearing time away from the computer and household noise would be such a critical recharge, how the time spent together would add to the sometimes-shaky foundations holding up our marriage.

What seems most meaningful of all is that it feels like we have been walking for so long, through all kinds of different terrain, and despite so many twists and turns and obstacles, we still manage to find a way to stay side by side.

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Middle school is going okay, so far, for both boys. I think? It’s so hard to know what’s really going on, from the bits and pieces they’re willing to divulge combined with what I can observe. I feel like I’m always trying to put together a puzzle with all sorts of missing pieces and some days it seems like the picture that’s barely coming into view looks pretty good and other days it seems worrisome. Sometimes things just don’t add up at all, like when I met with Dylan’s math teacher after a particularly grueling and despair-filled homework experience and she was like, “Oh, Dylan’s doing just fine! He’s got a great head for math,” and I was like, uhhhhh … kid about yay high, blonde, lots of freckles? That kid? So I don’t know, I guess all I really DO know is that kids often present different versions of themselves at school as opposed to home and honestly how’s a parent supposed to correctly decipher ANY of this hormonal mess?

Not to mention my own hormones. I don’t think this was well thought out at all, this business of being in my mid-forties when the kids are young teenagers. I should just buy a Costco-sized tub of Stridex and padlock the doors. DO NOT OPEN UNTIL SELF-CONFIDENCE IS SLIGHTLY LESS CORRODED BY SOCIETAL AND CRUSHING INTERNAL PRESSURES, the sign will say.

In other news, I have a new website! I have been wanting a place that’s specifically for product recommendations, and now I have one. It’s basically Sundry Buzz 2.0, for longtime readers, and there’s not a ton there yet but I’m plugging away at it. My top picks at the moment are this candle and this stupidly-named but highly useful face razor (when you are 45, you will have whiskers). You can get updates via Instagram, if you like.

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