“Do you feel weird walking around here?” R asked me last week. At the moment we were walking to run a couple of errands together. “Not really,” I responded, why do you ask?” R paused then said, “Well, it’s just you always drive. Wherever we go or if you come over to my house, you drive.” I thought on that for a moment, I do often drive, why was that? Quickly my brain came up with a lot of reasons – it’s faster, I’ve had a number of bad experiences walking, it’s easier when taking little ones. These reasons were valid, except something felt uncomfortable about them.
The task at hand with R took ten times longer by walking, but the conversations that came out of our walk were deeper because we had that time. We passed at least five different people we knew, exchanged greetings, and met one another’s friends. I realized how much I distance myself from the community by driving.
It is easy to drive from point A to point B and miss all that’s in between. It’s more convenient to pull up to my home, park, and walk straight inside unless a neighbor is directly in my path. I’m introverted and when I go home it’s my time to rest a bit. But what neighbors am I missing a greeting with? What am I communicating?
Yesterday I walked to the Post Office and the Family Dollar. Later in the evening E and I walked to Walgreens to return a Red Box movie. The process was a little uncomfortable, I received a lot of stares and some comments, and initially the introverted part of me just wanted to be separated a bit more. However, in those times I saw many others I knew walking to run their errands, came across a little guy who just joined the mentoring program E works with, the little guy rode his bike along for blocks just chatting away. The end of the day, E and I ran into our downstairs neighbor, walked the remaining distance home with them and had the girls over for “bolis” or freezie pops.
While every trip might not contain so many people I know, the importance of walking was affirmed. To live here, to be a part of my neighborhood, I want to destroy as many barriers as I can that causes separation. Walking in a small way does this.