Finding traditions in a big city, like Los Angeles, can be difficult. Things are always changing, and it is hard to find a close-knit community in an urban setting with so many people. Because people come from all over the world, finding people with similar backgrounds and interest as you is difficult. But in my little neighborhood, nestled in the hills of Los Angeles, I have long-lasting traditions that I look forward to every year. For some people walking to school isn’t that important, but for me it was something that largely impacted my life.
I started walking to my elementary school every morning with the Kaplans, Garricks, Saviolas, Rasmussens and my family—five families, all separated only by a of couple houses. This tradition was already in place before I was old enough to go to school, but I always looked forward to being a part of this walking-to-school tradition. When I was five to eleven-years-old, my neighbors and I would all meet at one of our houses and walk in a big clump of parents and kids to school down the street. Our daily walks were always exciting; we could look forward to finding dead animals that would gross us out or seeing deer cross our path that would amaze us. And we were always on the lookout for dog poop. On our short walks, we would play games, sing songs or tell each other crazy stories. This small act of walking to school was so special to me because it was a time when I could talk with all my friends before and after school, and it was a nice familiar routine that I looked forward to each day.
Every day was a new adventure. This little walk down my street often held new surprises in store. I remember one time my friends and I were all walking with our parents behind us when suddenly we heard something in the bushes. We all got quiet and looked up only to see a deer right in front of us. This was the first of many encounters with the abundant wildlife in our city canyon. Seeing this deer made us all realize how lucky we were to be able to escape the city madness, have a small community that felt familiar and experience genuine wildlife.
This small ritual with my best friends was always something I looked forward to the minute I woke up and the second school ended. Eventually, we all got older and went to different schools, but this tradition of walking together brought us closer, and we have even started new traditions. Growing up with these traditions made me feel safe and grateful that I always had a place where I felt comfortable and at home. I remember feeling sad on my last walk to and from elementary school because our tradition was over, but we still see each other every weekend and laugh as we watch new groups of families walk to school.