Discover more from Poiema
Different Walks of Life
Why I Keep to the Country
Every so often someone asks me why I prefer the country and small towns to big cities. While there are several reasons, I usually opt for a very pedestrian response: “I can’t walk in cities.”
That is not to say that other people can’t walk in cities, multiplied millions do. It is simply an admission that I never acquired that particular skill. Being from the South, I can traipse, saunter, stroll, gallivant, lope, sidle, promenade, and poke or plow along. I am an adept lollygagger, but when the need arises I can even hot foot it. Though this usually requires the presence of some manner of serpent in the vicinity. When I was a boy in short britches I was even known to skedaddle. I reckon if I set my mind to it, I could even sashay. But city-walking is a different mode of ambulation altogether.
I have never been to New York City, but I have been to London a number of times and I suspect that if you make allowances for bumbershoots as opposed to umbrellas, they walk pretty much the same way. City-walking seems to be a form of running but with shorter, quicker steps. Mostly in wingtips and high-heels. And while it is a group affair, it is never a team sport.
Tight puddles of people race along sidewalks close enough to feel each other breathe, but the secret seems to be never acknowledging the presence of other folks. It is different from power walking because you aren’t permitted to swing your elbows as this would run the risk of touching someone. Touching is strictly verboten.
City-walking requires one to remain vigilant while appearing unconcerned. This means that one is mindful of one’s surroundings; fender benders, honking cars, panhandlers, amorous dogs, fist fights and so on, but acting as though they are not there. Think of it as a kind of skeptical solipsism.
City-walking doesn’t allow for sight-seeing. One isn’t allowed to stop and gawk. This is hard on a southerner since it is in our nature to pause the instant we find anything remotely interesting, put our hands on our hips, and say, “Well I declare.” Whereas city-walking is all about getting somewhere, country-walking is all about going somewhere.
I am built for leisurely strolls. And I also like to have enough room to spit in any direction without running the risk of messing up some poor woman’s Gucci bag. Big cities aren’t necessarily bad places. But they aren’t made for folks who see crowds of other folks and are tempted to ask them where they came from and all about their kin people.
So one reason I keep to the hinterlands is because I just can’t walk in cities. I don’t have the patience to be in such a hurry.
Please Consider Supporting Us
If you have found value in my work and writing, then this may be an opportunity for you to support my future endeavors. Given the time and resources it takes to research and write books, articles, lessons, and all the rest of it, I can’t do this work apart from your generosity.
If you would like to support our work on a monthly basis, consider doing so as one of our patrons through Patreon.
If you would like to make a one time donation, you can do so by sending it directly through PayPal.