All Walk, No Play… Well, Some Play :)
3:15 p.m. I’m waiting at the brown line Fullerton stop and watch a young boy intensly practicing his baseball pitch against a building. I am on the platform, he is on another planet. I watch him for nearly four minutes, until he excitedly runs to a car that he recognizes. He doesn’t notice me.
This walk was random; I knew it would happen, but I hadn’t settled on when.
At around 3:00 in the afternoon on Monday, I decided I didn’t want to be confined by the walls of my apartment any longer. I had just gotten out of class for the past four hours, none of my roomates were home, had homework to do — but wasn’t in the mood — and a paycheck to pick up. So, I hopped on the brown line to Sedgewick and proceeded on my usual walk to work.
3:20 p.m. A man on the train gestures me to exit before him as he is carrying his bike. I knod in appreciation of his kindness.
3:30 p.m. I finally photograph the intriguing door frame I have been passing for the past three weeks on my usual route to work.
When I arrived, I met one of my new coworkers for the first time; his name is Brandon. He assured me that my boss hadn’t dopped off my check yet, so I did the only natural thing left to do: I bought a peppermint ice cream sandwich and went for a walk.
3:45 p.m. Brandon says goodbye as I exit the shop.
3:47 p.m. I recieve numerous stares and I walk Wells Street with a dripping ice cream sandwich. I disregard them. It’s delicious.
3:53 p.m. I pass a junior high school and all the kids are awaiting their coaches for instructions. School has ended, extracuriculars have begun. They snicker at the oreo residue on my face as I walk past and smile.
3:56 p.m I pass Elly’s Pancake House. It looks like a really cute breakfast place. I think I’ll go back!
4:02 p.m. I walk through a dog park on LaSalle Boulevard and North Avenue. The people walking their dogs do nothing but think to themselves about the poop they will need to scoop off the grass in a few short moments.
4:04 p.m I see this tree. The city must have just cut off its branch and needed to denote its recent trim, or some young graffitti artist decided he needed target practice.
4:05 p.m. I walk through a tunnel and emerge on the other end only to see cross coutnry runners, soccer players, bike riders, and other fellow walkers. We all smile to one another to simply acknowledge our taking advantage of the beautiful day. We smile to share in appreciation and nothing more.
4:07 p.m. A guy on a bike zooms past me. He is obviously in a hurry to be somewhere.
4:09 p.m. I am waiting to cross the street at Clark and Lincoln when I am over shadowed by this massive scultpure. Being the person obsessed by trees that I am, I photograph it. It doesn’t shy away from the amature paparazzi that I am. I doesn’t try to hide from my invasive lens. It does nothing.
4:10 p.m. I successfully cross the street.
4:15 p.m I make it to the Lincoln Park Zoo campus. It’s very large.
4:17 p.m. I procede on my mile stretch down Lincoln Avenue.
4:20 p.m. I pass the Hemmingway House. I’m still not quite sure what it does. There is a Coldwell Banker there. Not sure what Coldwell Banker has to do with Ernest Hemminway, but I want to find out.
4:40 p.m. I pass a bar where on of the empoyees is on his phone out side. He smiles at me while still managing to keep his conversation going.
4:43 p.m. A group of preschoolers is approaching me. I move to the side in order to allow them to pass easily. The teachers smile in thank at me. The students don’t even notice. They are just happy to be outside.
4:50 p.m. I pass Insomnia Cookies. I am suddenly in the mood for a cookie. I resist the urge to spend my money, yet again, on food.
4:58 p.m I am at a crossroads. Literally, I stand at the intersention of Lincoln Ave., Halsted St., and Fullerton Pkwy. I contemplate whether I want to go back to my room or deposit a check my aunt sent me. Being the college student I am, I would like money in my bank, so I opt for the latter.
5:10 p.m. I deposit $50 into my account. :)
5:12 p.m. I head south toward Fullerton.
5:20 p.m. As I await the little white man to signal that walking across the intersection is now safe, a girl not much older than me, but much shorter, taps me on the shoulder. “You’re really beautiful,” she says. I laugh with disbelief — as a bead of sweat roll down the back of my neck on account of the fiery sun — but thank her anyway. The white man signals WALK. I smile at her generous compliment.
5:30 p.m. I arrive a the quad. I lay down my blanket on the grass. I plug my phone into my speaker. I proceed to fade in and out of sleep for the next hour and a half.
7:00 p.m. Today was a good day.
Walking in the city illicits different emotions at different times. When I walk the streets during the day, I usually feel rushed because I’m trying to get somewhere by a specific time. However, when I have the “free time”, as Silvia Plath may put it, I feel relaxed and enveloped in my surroundings. Now, that is a completely separate story at night time.
When I walk at night, there is always a level of discomfort and haste in my step. There is no “free time” to enjoy myself when walking at night — alone, that is. When you walk with someone else, you feel more secure. You are a pair. If someone threatens you, well now there are two, so the chances of thatare reduced.
Needless to say, night time walking is always a time of hightened stress. When, I first met my roommates, we were discussing class schedules. One of the girls was concerned becuase one of her classes ended at 7:30 and to make matter worse, was a twenty minute train ride away. She wanted to make sure someone would talk to her on the phone if she ever felt unsafe. Naturally, we all agreed to stay on the phone with her for as long as she deemed necessary, but her need to ask that made me rather angry. Why should a woman need to even have that kind of plan thought out ahead of time? She should be able to walk home just the way any other man does when it gets dark.
Similarly, the other day, I was in the quad on my picnic blanket. It was probably around 9:30 p.m., but I wnted to go sit outside and enjoy the night. Later that next day, I mentioned my excursion to the quad after dark, and she nearly fell off her chair while simoulatneoulsy bombarding me with questions and a mini lecture on nighttime awareness: “Were you with someone? Did you have your headphones in? You know you’re not supposed to have your headphones in when you’re going places at night! You need to be aware of your surroundings!” I responded plainly with, “It’s fine… No, my headphones were not in and there were a ton of other people in the quad. Relax.”
So, yes, there is a difference when walking during the day versus at night, but I’ve found that if you walk (alone) with a purpose and pretend like you know where your going… no one bothers you.