"Walk everywhere "said my ballet instructor in college when I - very pregnant - tearfully told her that I was out of shape. I meant specifically ballet shape, but , nonetheless, her words engraved in my brain forever.
I always loved walking. In Europe that's what you do, period. Cars are a luxury, even now. The style of living does not make it be a necessity. And even if there is a need, generally , it is easily taken care of by metro, bus, trolley or a bike.
I remember being around 10 years old when I met my first "real" American . Adults talked, she casually mentioned owning 3 cars. You should have been there to see the indescribable face expressions. I don't think everyone slept that night - all the moms were on the GGL ( general gossip line) until dawn oohing and ahhing over the "rich life". Little did they know that what was perceived as a luxury is actually a necessity for most part of living in the US.
Either it is my cultural upbringing, the city life ( having a car in NYC is not the funnest of experiences) , or just the love for the fresh air and the calmness of walking, but I cannot stand driving to/from places that can be reached by foot or bike. I think that it's cumbersome, inconvenient ( all the parking) , polluting and simply unnecessary. Why drive for 5 min and stand at the light for another 5, polluting the environment and creating not needed traffic , when you can cross the distance in 15 , enjoying the nature while replenishing your blood oxygen supply, restoring your nervous system ( endorphins do good), burning extra calories and enhancing the health in general? To me - the choice is simple. I have to tell the story though.
Just a couple of weeks ago I was , as usual , walking. Fast and determined - we had a destination and a deadline : the kindergarten. The walk is not too long, and we engaged in a conversation about the necessity of bugs ( important, you know). About 5 minutes away from the school I noticed my daughter turning back few times. Finally she said - "Mommy, there is a car there behind us... And it has the lights ...". I turned around out of a reflex, really. But I did a double take and had what was probably an Oscar nomination worthy expression when I saw a police car driving RIGHT BEHIND me with the light on and flashing. I seriously thought he was pulling someone over. And he was. ME. On a sidewalk. He asked what we were DOING. I explained that I was walking to school. Being a very nice, young, and concerned officer, he said that it might be safer not to walk with all the cars on the road. I was ON. A. SIDEWALK, people. Either my speechless stare or the fact that the baby started to object ( OR the fact that I actually WAS on a sidewalk) but he let me continue. However, as a courtesy, he drove behind me, at , probably 2 miles per hour, to make sure that we SAFELY make it to school on our final stretch. WITH HIS LIGHTS ON. All the way.
When I told the story to one of my friends, her words where - "what did he pull you over for? For walking too fast?"
While situation is hilarious in one way, on the other note... it's kind of sad. I hope that more people get out and enjoy the nature and just plain outside, so that pedestrians do not get looked at as an exotic exhibit at the zoo. But then... I also really like uncrowded sidewalks. And how many people really can say that they have PERSONALLY been escorted by a lit up police car unless they are of an extreme importance?
I feel royal. Seriously.