Now that it’s been almost three years since I first started working from home, and about six months since I started coming into the office one day a week, I’ve been reflecting on how much has changed, and also going back to some old habits. For six months now I haven’t gone very far from the office on my lunch break, mainly because I was still getting in the habit of being back at work, and it took a long time to get over an odd feeling that this is still not normal. Also, unlike the old days when the only way to avoid someone coming up and asking me work-related questions was to get out of the office now, even with a few people sharing the space with me, no one seems inclined to talk to me or to anyone else.
There’s also been the weather which hasn’t always been amenable to getting outside. One of the downsides of only being in the office on Mondays is if it’s raining or cold or there are giant aardvarks roaming the streets I’m not inclined to go out, or at least not to go far.
Last Monday, though, for the first time since I’ve been coming back to work, I did what I used to do at least once a week: I walked to Centennial Park. It was always a good way to clear my head, get some exercise, just generally put work behind me. My office is close enough to it that I can walk to the park, circle the pond where ducks and Canada geese paddle around, or stroll around the Parthenon, and make it back to my desk in less than an hour. A few things have changed. There’s a lot of construction going on now so, instead of just using the sidewalk to get there, I have to walk through a construction tunnel. I still cross at the same crosswalk where a music store used to be and now there’s a hotel. The flower shop, hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and drugstore are gone too. For now that whole block is a vacant lot. Something will go up soon.
At least Centennial Park is still very much the same. There’s still the pond with the ducks and Canada geese, and the Parthenon, and people strolling around the grass or jogging on the trails.
I had a lot of stress about coming back to work. I was unsure of where I’d work, or even where I’d park, and I still have the commute and the irregular elevators to contend with. The cubicle I called mine has been cleaned out, all of my personal items removed. The future is still uncertain. But I think making a Monday walk to Centennial Park part of the new normal will help regardless of what the weather is like.