Feb 16, 2009

Walking and Urbanity

I spent 8 years as a walker in San Francisco. A dog walker, a neighborhood walker, a park walker. I'd bike to walk. You get used to distances, to deciding whether to ride or walk. I love walking, even in cities. Cars are annoying and demoralizing but you learn routes and find ways to get around the cars. You find quiet spots like Kite Hill or Brooks Park.

Saturday night was pretty mild in London so after a few (or too many) pints, I wanted a walk. In SF if I had been drinking and wanted to be more sober, I'd walk home. I've walked from Zeitgeist to my flat in the Excelsior more than twice, once even detouring for a midnight visit to Bernal Hill with Blake. On Saturday my friend and I decided to dip out for a walk in the mellow London night.

Damn this town is dense. We walked around Finsbury Park. Literally around it because it's fenced off and it was closed. It isn't even pleasant to walk next to a fenced park, really, cars whooshing by on the other side. I was anticipating a feeling of open-ness, space. Darkness can allow that sometimes. You know, how sometimes you can't see all the urbanity around you because it's dark so you feel like you've escaped it for a second.

Being inside is like a retreat from urbanity, but not one that offers me much release. I find my release outside, in nature. But London winter isn't always so compliant with my needs. Short, cold, wet days. And I have a damn hard time getting my friends to be outside with me! I guess that was a similar situation in SF, but I had so many canine friends that it didn't really matter. And eventually I found my tomboys, dog walkers, and weedies to spend time with.

I really miss my restoration days, particularly Wedsnedays with the California Native Plant Society crew. I miss that exchange of knowledge and general means of socializing in a productive way. Here I'm more engaged in human centered activities like social center organizing. I love that stuff, but it's always been a secondary passion, with animals and plants and bicycles being more important to me. Yeah, that would make it my quaternary passion, but I'm lumping the first bit into 'outsideness' for simplicity.

I'm trying to learn from my time as an indoorswoman. I probably would have never chosen some of the projects that I'm working on right now if I weren't in London in the winter. Other things would intervene and I'd be outside instead. So in some ways, the limitations presented by short, cold, wet days are opportunities for someone like me.

But in fairness to my friends here, I wish I could be outside more than just my daily bike rides. I'm annoying when I'm underexercised. Just tells you how great my friends are here, they tolerate me anyway.

1 comment:

batgrrl said...

Rachel,
thanks as always for your thoughts.
I worry that winters away from this outdoor paradise will be tough. short days, extreme cold. If I end up in Calgary it will be worse than London I think. I hope spring is sweet for you.
J.