Southern California has an uncanny knack for conditioning people not to walk. Being a pedestrian simply isn’t done, unless you’re a child in a serene suburb walking the couple blocks to and from school.
It’s not just the layout, which was designed without considering pedestrians, or even the lack of good public transit systems. There’s just something in the air down here that prompts people to purge every bit of non-essential walking from their lives. In this area, walking is done to and from your car, around shopping centers, and on the treadmill. Down here people battle to get parking spots as close as possible to the storefronts, to minimize the to/from distance.
At some point it really got in my head that walking was not an option. Some time ago I was in a situation wherein I had to wait ~thirty minutes after getting off work to be picked up by my beautiful husband. For several weeks I would wait out front and play games on my phone to bide the time. In what I know see as a fortuitous turn, I grew to hate my job with such vehemency that I couldn’t stand lingering outside the building for a second longer than I had to. And so, one day, with my blood boiling, I decided to walk to his building. The truth is, I hadn’t given this plan a great deal of forethought, and as such, I ended up hoofing it in my favorite pair of heels. Blisters abound! But from then on, I brought a pair of sensible shoes to wear for the walk.
~two miles is very much within the realm of walking distance. With every step I felt better about my actions (especially because prior to that my lifestyle had become wholly sedentary) and foolish for relying on automobiles for all transportation needs. On various post-work walks I was approached by coworkers offering to drive me. I of course very much appreciated their offers, but always declined, assuring them that I needed the exercise. They always seemed so puzzled, like they couldn’t wrap their heads around someone opting to walk (even after nine hours of sitting in front of a computer). This went on for a few weeks before I ultimately, at long last, resigned.
I returned to my old ways immediately. I stayed inside because there was no need to venture out, despite there being a shopping center less than a mile away, with a grocery store, Starbucks, and a handful of restaurants. One night my husband and I walked to the Starbucks and grocery store; it was wonderful. And yet I remained shut-in.
Then we flew up to the Bay Area for New Year’s. On the first day we clocked in over seven miles on foot (thanks, husband’s pedometer!). For six days we walked, and we walked, and we took BART, and we walked. My legs were fucked every which way. I went home feeling like such the fool.
So now, I walk to the store several times a week for grocery, both saving gas and my husband’s time, as it’s one less thing for him to be burdened with. Of course, every single person that drives by stares at me like I’m an escaped convict or time traveler, but they’re dicks anyway.