I love walking places. I don’t feel like I have really experienced a place until I have walked around it. You see, when you walk around your town to get from place to place you experience things that you don’t get to in a car.
Cars move too fast. You can’t see all of the things around you, the letters etched into the sidewalk or the trees that have slightly dipped branches. When you walk you get all of that. You notice that the birdhouse on the corner is actually a mini library but, more importantly, you hear the conversations of everyone around you.
Hearing people as they go about their lives is one of my favorite things. They don’t realize anyone can hear them. You see all sorts of dynamics play out, even if you only get snap shots of their lives.
I’m living pretty close to a college campus so I see a lot of students wandering around, studying, playing soccer in the park, etc. Today, on my way to church I saw 3 different girls doing the dreaded “walk of shame (I hate that term; “walk of shame.” It’s only ever used for women and it implies that the woman had meaningless sex just hours before but it is never applied to men and, honestly, you know nothing about that girl or her relationship.).” Two of these girls were walking together in their pretty, though slightly disheveled, party dresses. Their hair was messy and one still wore her makeup, smudged across one cheek, like she ducked out of there so fast she didn’t even have time to look in a mirror. Or maybe she didn’t care in which case good for you but, given the conversation that I heard, I don’t think that was the case. The other young woman looked like she had a little more time to put herself together that morning. I got the impression she had gone to pick up the first girl and make sure she got home safely. Their conversation made me laugh.
The first one, with the makeup smudged across her face, practically shouted “I have a condom.”
The second, “Then use it.
“The one I found in your makeup bag?”
“Oh no,” the second girl shook her head, “don’t use that one.”
My internal monologue went crazy as the two girls turned the corner and moved out of earshot.
These two girls were clearly the same age but one was the “mother friend” angrily clicking at troublesome duckling. That part didn’t interest me quite as much as this mysterious makeup bag condom and why the mother hen would rather have that one go unused in this situation. What was it for? Was it not a condom at all and was about to cause an embarrassing situation for the first girl? I have so many questions.
Immediately following this was a young man carrying a bag of groceries reading Chaucer while he walked. Oh college, what an interesting place you always were.
But that is why I like walking. I have probably seen these people a dozens times as I have driven around town but I’ve never gotten any insight into their lives, I didn’t even notice them.