Saturday, November 25, 2006

Walking the Walk

Yesterday, the Day After Potentially Gluttonous Ruin -- Resisted, I was out of sorts. So, I took a walk. It wasn't like my more or less daily walking of the dog. Call it a Destination Walk. I walked downtown, from my home, about 2.5 miles.

Walking in this fashion is out of fashion in America. (I remember last month seeing people in Galway, Ireland, walking from downtown to the suburbs, young and old, walking.) People jog, they even walk vigorously, swinging their arms like militant evangelists of fitness. But we do not have too many walkable communities anymore. We are a nation of drivers.

It helped to clear my head.

You see things differently while walking. If you are fortunate, the city leaders will have provided sidewalks, good sidewalks for walking, as well as synchronized traffic- crossing signals. Yes, walking takes more time. Yes, you see things up close, like abandoned buildings from a long-lost industrial age, tossed food wrappers, old leaves. You encounter few, if any, other walking humans. You encounter cars, snarling by almost like caricatures in a cartoon. You smell their exhaust. I guess you become more fit and become smugly superior-minded in doing so, but not necessarily. (I hope I didn't and don't.)

I stopped briefly at an art gallery. Then I made it to Armory Square, a section of town popular as a night spot. Old buildings. Adaptive reuse. I read the paper at a popular Seattle-based coffee joint. Drank a Pelligrino mineral water. Didn't want coffee.

Walked back in the sunset.

I realized, quite literally, I could walk to my workplace during the week. It's a different direction, but I could do it. We used to walk to school. By ourselves.

My walking yesterday was the quintessential anti-mall statement on so-called Black Friday. My walk wasn't very black at all. It was washed in golden sunlight and chilly air. And I spent something like $2.75.

That's all.

A walk on the most unwalkable of American days -- except for those sauntering in sealed cathedrals of commerce.


Anonymous said...

The few days I walked to work from my house allowed me to explore new neighborhoods I never drove through because they were side streets. I saw so many houses and gardens that blew me away.

I'd like to walk more, but the big issue is time. I don't mind the 1 hour travel time, but I DO MIND getting up at unhuman times to get there. Why can't the working day start at 10 a.m.?

sammyray said...

Awesome post. You're right - we have become way to dependent on cars. It's made us fat, and broke, and lazy.

Margaret said...

:sigh: If only Savannah had sidewalks and areas safer to walk out here in the suburbs and county. Peeps tend to drive by and take your ear off with the side views mirrors.

jbwritergirl said...

Walking on the wild side huh? In LA most people use their cars to go everywhere including visiting friends three doors down.

I love to walk but choose trails so that I don't get my ears clipped as well.

Anonymous said...

Great post! I walk daily and I love it. Many a blog post has been composed while walking. If I don't get my daily walk in, I'm a grumpy little man!

Kudos to you for walking downtown!

Anonymous said...

ahh beautiful words and my favorite pastime...walking..

i do so each and every day..and oh yes, i have never and will never shop on the day after t-day...

Anonymous said...

I should walk more often. Sometimes I fool myself into thinking that my 10 min walk to the train counts as walking but not so much. However, as I don't have a car I probably walk more than a lot of people so I won't feel too bad.

Odat (Peace sign and all). said...

Yes, the art of the walk, forgotten. I walk every evening. I like exploring and seeing things for the first time. I rarely see humans either. It's ok tho. (I also walk a mile when I get off the train in NYC, I take a different route every day).

PS I have family in Galway!

Crankster said...

That sounds fantastic.

I envy you. The nearest bus station is 2 miles from my house, down a rural highway (45 mph) that doesn't have sidewalks.

mist1 said...

A walk and a Pelligrino is bliss for me.

Glamourpuss said...

Gorgeous post, Pawlie. Love the writing and the sentiment. I'm a walker - walked everywhere when I lived in London - it's how I know all the best places to go...

I got heckled for walking in LA - most odd.