And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear

Yesterday I went to an event at UNCG featuring Margaret Maron, an author whose work I greatly enjoy. I went with some women from my work book club, and after the event was over, they planned to drive home and I was supposed to meet up with Mike, who was studying at Starbucks. Before parting ways with them, they said, “Now where are you meeting your husband?” “At the coffeeshop,” I said, waving vaguely, knowing that they wouldn’t want me to walk all that way, but not wanting to ask for a ride. I called Mike, who said he was extremely comfortable and that I should walk as we had discussed. No problem, I thought, except that part of where I was going didn’t really have any sidewalks. And thus began my adventure.

First, let me say that I was excited about walking, because it agrees with my principles. Yay for exercise! Yay for being outdoors and communing with nature, for saving gas, for taking time instead of rushing around! All of these things are great! Not so great: the blazer I was wearing and the heavy bag I was carrying. But still, I relished the idea that I could walk and eschew my cell phone and my iPod (I left the headphones at work even if I had wanted to listen to it, but that is not the point, is it). I started by . . . not finding any sidewalks. So instead of following the road I needed to be on, I cut through the practice golf course at UNCG, praying that no one would hit me. An adventure already! I was only vaguely familiar with that part of the campus, having run there during my jogging class. (Yes, I took jogging. And got an A. Shut up.)

Basically, right away there was a problem. When I got to the first street, there was no place to cross legally. I walked west for a bit to find a crosswalk, and, not finding one, dashed across the street with my plastic bag banging into my leg. Also, my blazer was starting to get oppressively warm.

At the next street, I had to head a block back east to find a place to cross. There were crosswalks, and I managed to head in the right direction, going into a neighborhood and then trespassing through someone’s yard to finally make my way back to the street I was actually trying to follow, which finally had actual sidewalks that I could use. What a novel idea, these sidewalks. For people to walk on! This is around the time when Alisa called me, wanting to know where the heck I was and should she come pick me up. I am nothing, however, if not stubborn. I had done the hard part with the crazy street-crossing, I said. I was almost there. I took off my blazer.

Problem again. I got to the next street I needed to cross, the largest yet, and there were sidewalks on the other side of the street, but not the side I needed to be on. I am tough, though, so I . . . trespassed some more, walking through people’s front yards. It really would have been better if I’d just crossed the street, I think. It was shadier over there. I called Mike and gave him a hard time. He asked where I was, and refused to come and pick me up, citing the fact that I was so close.

After I got off the phone with Mike, there were sidewalks for the rest of the way. Oh, no, wait, that’s not true. There were sidewalks for the rest of the time that I was on that road, but I had to take a right to make it to Starbucks, and there were no sidewalks on that side street. I did finally make it. Mike let me have his comfortable chair. I verbally abused him. Alisa gave me some Chipotle. I stopped sweating and was able to put my blazer back on.

When I got home, I checked the distance, and it turned out to be 1.7 miles. It took me 40 minutes to walk it, partly because of all the dodging in and out of neighborhoods that I had to do and partly because I was lugging a big bag (and, eventually, my blazer). In fact, I imagine that the women I went to the event with made it back to their homes over 25 miles away in the same amount of time that it took me to walk 1.7 miles, which is kind of sad and strange.

We used to live very close to where that Starbucks is, and I attended UNCG during that time, but I never walked to campus. Mostly because I thought, “Where are the sidewalks? How would I get there?” It was, basically, a little bit too far to walk, not to mention a little too difficult (jaywalking, trespassing). I hate it when my principles make me do things that are hard.

We have a friend who works for the city, and part of his job is to do things like encouraging people to walk or ride bikes to work. If I’d had his number yesterday, I would have called him and said things like, “I’m . . . walking . . . where . . . are . . . the . . . sidewalks?” Also, I would have verbally abused him. He enjoyed my story (he tried to discount the trespassing, but I told him that it was important for a story to have adventure) and, while we were talking, pulled up a map of where the city intends to put sidewalks, and the route I took was not included. So, don’t expect to be able to walk to Starbucks from UNCG any time soon. Unless you are incredibly principled. Which, you know, some of us are. (Never again!)

At least I got my new Chucks worn in a bit. But I am going to have to wash the blazer.

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