My grandfather used to take me with him on his walks. He lived in a small town in upstate New York, which meant the kind of lace where everybody knew everybody, you could walk from one end of the town to the other and see the whole thing, and everything was very, very green.
There was also, apparently, a lot of things to see. Houses, mostly. At the time, I didn’t understand why this was interesting.
I regret that I wasn’t old enough to understand why these walks were enjoyable. For me, it was the offered bribe of ice cream that made the whole enterprise even remotely palatable. Even then, it was still frustrating. Grandpa liked to look at things. He liked to stop. He didn’t understand that the more time we spent looking, the less time there was for ice cream.
I think the problem is that I didn’t know how to drive yet.
Also, I was seven.
See, it’s my hypothesis that you have to drive for a few years before you can appreciate a good walk. When you drive, you can’t look at things. There’s just the road and all the people trying to kill you via their inattention. Maybe they’re trying to look at things or more likely, they’re looking at their laps and texting.
I came to this understand when I was driving home from work today. I took a different route than usual because I was picking up a suitcase for a friend. I drove through a part of Sahuarita that I’ve never been to before. The entire time I was driving, I was trying to navigate, but I felt frustrated, because I wanted to look out the window. I wanted to see what this part of the town looked like. I wanted to let my mind wander in the semi-intrusive way that it does as I wonder what the lives are like for the people who live in these houses.
What does it feel like to live here? Do they like it? Is there a barking dog that annoys them? Are the trees nice and shady? Would I like it if I lived here? Who would I be if I lived here instead of living where I do now?
You can’t do that when you’re driving. Hence why I like to walk now. I walk every day on my lunch break; it’s a habit I started when I transferred down to Sahuarita and it’s one I’ve kept to almost every single day even though the summer heat has verged on “skull-crushingly brutal.” Despite it, I still walk. I look around. I think. My mind wanders in a way that would be negligently fatal in a car.
It’s unfortunate my grandfather isn’t around anymore. I think I’d enjoy those walks a lot more now. We could wander. We could stop. We could look at things together.
That’d be nice, I think.