Observation Note 71: Response. Keira Soleore from Cogitations and Meditations poses the question (on Reading Note 29) “Don’t you find having to constantly dodge pedestrians and wait for traffic lights a nuisance on city walks as opposed to nature or along the harbor/bay/ocean?”
I actually get a thrill from walking amongst pedestrians. There is a sense of collective human movement that occurs as you walk through city streets, where people seem to fall into a rhythm with each other. There are so many stories around you when you are in a city. From the buskers, the office workers, the retailers, the customers and the tourists. It is no longer discernible who is a local and who is the traveller. The cameras and bumbags have disappeared as the ubiquitous telephone carries all your travellers needs.
Reading Note 31: Odd. Vivian Gornick in The Odd Woman and the City writes “My mind flashes on all who crossed my path today. I hear their voices, I see their gestures, I start filling in lives for them. Soon they are company, great company. I think to myself, I’d rather be here with you tonight than with anyone else I know.” This is how I feel about the people I walk amongst. I imagine their lives, their reasons for being in my path, their ideas and their circumstances. They aren’t as much in my way as I am part of their day.
Observation Note 72: Urban bliss. Sydney is a highly walkable city. It has been designed in such a way that if you know your streets, malls and tunnels well enough, you can avoid traffic lights. For instance, on Sunday, we walked for over four hours yet we probably encountered only 5 sets of lights. The city is an open air museum so I really don’t mind having to move around people who are looking up, admiring the urban space, those wonderful details on old and new buildings.
Occasionally, there will be dawdlers, or people who lack the understanding of the time of day – this is invariably a tourist or someone that rarely ventures into the city. Fran Lebowitz shouts “Pretend it’s a City” in her eponymously titled series, she is agitated and wants people to move out of her way. Though I thoroughly enjoyed the series, and at times can concur with the frustration of a dawdler when I am trying to get somewhere, I relish the feeling of being amongst many people, feeling safer amongst the hundreds than I do when I am alone on a street, or even just with two or three of us on a bush walk where I mentally am keeping track of how far I am from civilisation, how far I am from emergency assistance, how long it would take to raise an alarm from the moment that a brown snake bites me to the moment that the paramedics find my flailing twitching-in-its-death-throes body evident in the scattered twigs, dirt and leaves left strewn about like a demented dirt angel, my head landing in a green-head ant nest eliciting their ire as they bite bite bite me, leaving welts rising upon my face and completing the work of the snake that has slithered away, and my screaming agony will be unheard as it will be at one with the screeching dinosaur birds that circle overhead in that final moment.
I’ll take my chances in the city.