Kristen over on Spacing Ottawa has written an excellent review of Thursday’s Jane Talk “Neighbourhood Narratives”, the inaugural event of the 2014 Jane’s Walk Ottawa weekend. So instead of my intended review of the talk, because you should go read her’s, I would like to share a review of my thoughts through the talk.
This year’s Jane’s Talk reminded me that walking and talking, whether inner dialogue or shared conversation, are beautiful companions. Whether it was David O’meara who “took that question for a walk like a dog” in “Walking Around”, his love poem to the someone and the city, or Dennis Van Staalduinen who took the audience along on a meandering proverbial promenade of storytelling from Sherwood Forest, to Bytowne, to his own backyard. The evening had me thinking of and remembering many of my walks.
Walking alone with myself
I’ve done a lot of walking and talking to myself. My various apartments throughout my six years at Carleton were all pretty consistently a 30-minute walk from campus. Everyday started and ended with a collecting of thoughts as I put my feet on autopilot. Though collecting implies a bringing together and just as often it was a casting outward. Sometimes purposeful, sometimes aimless. Either way, it was an escape to, as O’meara phrased it, “a state of thoughtful revelry” and also a revelry of thought.
I don’t always just walk and talk to myself. Evening strolls are a favourite date night activity of mine. The same way walking seems to encourage a free flow of internal thought, it can stimulate great conversation with a close companion. Date night walks also came to mind as the speakers talked about purpose and purposeless walks. I had an ex who enjoyed our walks but insisted they needed a purpose and a destination; returning books to the library, going to the grocery store to buy milk. Which sometimes required a lot of imagination to invent and superimpose purpose on my part. Perhaps that was part of my enthusiasm when I learned that my current boyfriend has a dog. Taking the dog for a walk is that recurring purpose that functions equally as well as an excuse as a purpose for a walk.
Walk in a crowd
Van Staalduinen spoke of the ritual of perambulation and O’meara brought up the Italian tradition of pre-dinner walks. When the question from the audience about favourite places to walk, these kinds of ritualized walk came to my mind and with it, my semi-regular late night trek down Elgin St. Whether I’m returning home from a show in the Market, or returning downtown by bus and having to walk home from the Transitway because it is too late for my local bus, I often find myself walking the length of Elgin St late at night. It’s. . . entertaining. The endless post-lastcall lineup at Elgin Street Diner; the stumbling drunks and their sober companions trying to keep them from running out into the street; the overly friendly people; the overly rude people.
Please share your walking narratives, stories, and thoughts. That’s what comment sections are for.
- What do you think about when walking alone?
- Who’s your favourite walking buddy?
- Where’s your favourite people watching walk?