Saturday, April 19, 2008

Walking and Innocent

Our present neighborhood here in Franklin, Tenn., is located just across the street from a shopping center that includes a Blockbuster store. Normally just a three-minute drive, when we decided to rent a movie today I did something unusual: I walked there.

Now, I felt a bit strange doing this. A bit like an outcast as I strolled along the sidewalk and unevenly through the parking lot in blue jeans, cars streaming past me. Why should this be?

There's a certain stigma to walking for a task that usually calls for a car, as crazy as this sounds. And we all contribute to it in a sense. Catch sight of anyone walking along a busy road or through a shopping center who isn't dressed for a workout, and it's hard not to almost subconsciously conclude they either are homeless or can't drive because of a DUI or don't have a job--and perhaps all three. And for some reason tonight, doing the perfectly sane, environmentally and healthy friendly act of walking to Blockbuster when I could have drove, I felt a bit marginalized.

All in my head, of course. Or is it? Is there not some collective madness when walking is, like, weird? I've heard myself say many times the past couple of years that I would like to ride a bicycle or walk all the time and not have to own a car. And yet I don't want to live in New York City or another large metropolitan area with a transportation network that removes the daily need for a personal vehicle.

I guess, in general, I am looking for ways to simplify things where I am, in the now. Taking a short walk tonight felt like the first few steps, some very common sense steps. Despite whatever stigma I'm paranoid about fulfilling.


At 5:39 PM , Blogger Rebecca said...

For me, there is no such thing as a three-minute drive. That automatically translates to "walk." For example, the laundromat is a three minute drive away. If it is snowing or raining,the laundry doesn't get done before I'd even consider getting in the car.

I think it depends on where you live. Here in Boston, there is a lot of motivation NOT to drive (mostly courtesy of the drivers themselves, LOL). It helps considerably that I hate to drive in general. When we moved here, I had to learn how to get around in a much larger city and still not use the car (only if I HAVE to). I'm blessed to live in a place with reasonably good mass transit. And you know the best part? EVERYONE uses it: the business commuters, the moms, the high school kids, the homeless...everyone. And we all sit, packed together, equals in our goal to get where we are going. I think there is a lot to be said for freeing ourselves from the social isolation of the automobile.


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