Saturday, October 18, 2008


I wrote this in January of this year. Circumstances are different, we don't live in the same neighbourhood, and I've changed jobs, so this is a bit of a time capsule, but why waste a good post...


This is about walking.

I have cassettes. I know that's antiquated. But that's what I have. I used to have a lot of vinyl. I still have some, and of course I have CDs and I have mp3s. But most of what I have is on cassette.

And being neurotic, I have them all numbered. First I have some pre-rock-and-roll era stuff, then I have all these best of's / collections / greatest hits from all these 50's and 60's era artists (in some kind of weird chronological order) then a series of a-bunch-of-albums-by (The Beatles, Dylan, Nilsson, Croce etc), then a bunch of random 60s albums, then a bunch of random 70s albums, then chaos. (We neurotics can deal with chaos, as long as we make a category out it).

So one day back in 2003, I grabbed my Walkman (now you see why I have three?), stuck tape no 1 into it, and went off to work. Then I followed it with number 2 etc. I kept this up until August 31, 2006, which was my last day of work.

After a few weeks of unemployment I realized that I wasn't getting ahead in my cassette-listening-to project. So that evening, I decided to carry on the project just by going out walking in the evening.

And I did just that. As I recall, I was up to somewhere in 1965, listening to The Small Faces. And I began to do this every night.

Now as it happens, my life was not very good right about then. Some days were very difficult. Other days were just somewhat difficult. And these walks became therapeutic. When I went out at night and I walked around my neighbourhood, I felt like I was reclaiming myself. I would turn up the music that was already deafening my not-so-young-anymore ears, I would jump around on the rocks at Gold Park and play air bass to Butterfield Blues Band doing One More Heartache, I would look wistfully at reflections of the condos in the fake lake in Bois Franc while The Statler Brothers intoned Who Am I To Say, or I would jump fences across from Place Vertû Shopping Centre, listening the whole time to Roget Daltrey scream about how he won't get fooled again.

After a while I standardized on a few specific walking paths. I like walking through Beaudet Park, which is diagonally across from the du College Métro Station; they have a memorial fountain there, and they decorate the whole area around there for holidays and the like - in November they put up memorial wreaths, in December they decorate the trees. Then I walk down Decarie Blvd, past the stores and galleries and restaurants and police station. (One gallery has a $1000 statuette of a corpulent lady playing cello, gotta love it).


Sometimes I walk past the Couche Tard. In summer I stop and grab a Van Houte, and I sit on the curb and drink coffee. Then I walk past the magnificent Catholic church that's on the corner of Marcel Laurin and de l'Église. My favourite walk, and one of the longest, is to Marcel Laurin Park (which isn't on Marcel Laurin, and Baudet Park isn't on Baudet, and Alexis Nihon Park isn't on Alexis Nihon). It has the lake with ducks (though you don't see them much at night), a waterfall, a bridge, necking couples. Walking around there at night is peaceful. I even turn off the Walkman sometimes, and just sit by the waterfall and think about nothing. That's not one for winter though.


At some point between then and now, my life got less difficult - in some respects anyway. I'm grateful for that. And so my walks became less intense, but just as important.

I've not been doing it lately though, walking. That's partly because of the weather, though truth be told it hasn't been all that cold. But really it's mostly because I've been so darn tired. By 9:30, which is my assigned walking time (did I mention that I was neurotic?) I can barely keep my eyes open, and even then I spend time doing job applications, washing dishes, keeping up with correspondence.

But no more. I am going to hit the streets again, starting now. I have Yes in the box. Someone has to walk down rue du Collège playing Rick Wakeman's synthesizer riffs in the air. May as well be me…


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