Wednesday, July 18, 2007

only a walker

I used to admire my backpacking friends who traipsed amongst the trees on vaguely marked trails while shouldering their whole world on their backs. They were brave and outdoorsy. They sucked marrow in the echoing wilderness. I felt inferior. I wanted to be like them.

Not anymore.

It turns out that I don't much like trees or tents or hard ground or s'mores* or pure solitude. It turns out that I prefer parks and buildings and beds and chocolate croissants and people.

Amongst the REI crowd, it's simply not cool to prefer those things. Here in the United States, it's odd to go out walking. Sure, you can go for a walk, but if you don't have a pack on, you should probably be pumping your arms and sweating. Heck, even if you are walking for exercise, you are still considered inferior and should be properly apologetic that you are not as good as the runners whizzing by. You hang your head: "Sorry. I'm only a walker."

My friend recently asked me whether I wandered amongst the woodsy trails around my childhood home when I was little. I didn't just say no; I bristled at the question. I got defensive, and it took me a little while to figure out why. In the American spirit, people are encouraged to wander in the wilderness. It's commendable to possess that pioneering spirit. It irks me to think that I'm not a creative, natural soul like the backpackers I admire, but hiking just isn't my thing.

I hate the very idea of getting lost in the buggy woods. Hiking is okay occasionally, but I prefer sidewalks and streets and rails-to-trails to faded paint blazes. I like civilization. I like to think about what I'm thinking instead of where I'm going. I like to let the rhythm of my feet guide my thoughts.

I'm finally ready to admit it: I'm only a walker.

I recently invited my 14 year old nephew to go for a walk. "I'll go for a hike with you, but I'm not going for a walk," he declared. Damn those teenagers. Just when I think I've raked in the cool points for getting a mohawk, I go and cash them in on admitting I like walking.

*Okay I do like smores, but I needed the cheap parallelism. Forgive me.

1 comment:

sara m said...

you're not "only a walker." you're a "gorgeous, strong, creative walker"