January 23, 2006

On foot.

Some bridge that crosses Interstate 64 from Louisville, Kentucky into Southern Indiana. January 2006. We got to the mall in Carbondale on foot Saturday. Leg power anyway. We were going to bike the whole way, but we got out of shape over the holidays. I got softer and slower, anyway. Shame, since I was able to ride a good five or six miles at a time at a good speed and not get too winded. Anyway, we were too tired, so we rode about two miles to Faner and then walked the other two or three to the mall. It's all up hill to where our departments are, and we were pooped. I know, you fit Europeans are thinking, "So?" But we doughy Americans don't do anything like that. We don't walk anywhere. I live about five minutes from the market on foot. It's so close that I never ever bother to get my bike out to go there. My neighbor drove there yesterday. I don't know if it was because it was raining or because he's lazy (and I am, too, so don't take it like that), but he drove less than 1/4 of a mile, and he didn't even get a lot of groceries. I saw things on foot Saturday that I had never noticed in a car. Let's keep it at that. Streams that run through town, a huge motel I never saw before (I drive fast). Etc. There was one point where crossing the street got difficult and required some darting. While this sort of thing made me feel like a loser for some reason when we didn't own a car in Boston (because we didn't need one and didn't have the money for one), it doesn't anymore. I think it's funny, and it makes me feel a little braver. That's good, I think. We stopped by the liquor store and bought some local wine, at Walgreens and at the bike shop downtown to get lights for our bikes and more bungies. We wound up staying past closing talking to the nice owner, and I even found a tiny cable to lock my helmet to my bike so that I don't have to carry it around. Am I passing judgment on cars and car owners? Please, no. I'm beginning to view car ownership like meat: fine and good and very enjoyable, but just not for me. Believe me, I miss meat and wish I could eat it and feel Okay about it. It would nice to be normal enough to be able to order anything on the menu when I go out with people for dinner. In getting judgmental, I'm judging my Pre-December First (no more car day for us) self that was too afraid to do anything fun and who gave up the urge to travel because it meant scratches on the damned car. The guy who was too lazy to visit the market he lived across the street from for two years because, by golly, he's gonna drive the car he pays too much money for. The guy who was very lazy (and still is in a lot of ways) to try anything new. And a hundred other things I want to kick two-months-ago me in the nuts for.


Lorianne said...

Have you read Bill Bryson's *A Walk in the Woods*? He has a part where he talks about arriving in some town along the Appalachian Trail & trying to walk to the local box store (K-Mart, I think) for supplies. He discovers that you almost *can't* walk to it, there being so many obstacles, pedestrian-blocking culverts, & such.

He also cites at one point the amount of walking the "average American" does, and it's a pitifully short distance. So even though he & his overweight hiking buddy don't walk the entire AT (oops: spoiler!), they walk circles around the typical couch potato.

Pragmatik said...

I love that book! I read it last spring, right around the time of year that they left. Given that I sat there a few times being afraid of hail from this damned Mid-Western "thunderstorms" hurting the car and feeling guilty because I never ever ever walked anywhere then, the book made me feel very very...boring. I feel much better now! I'm wondering if I can do the AT one day:)