Skip free or die trying: My run-ins with the world of two-legged transportation
I’ve never been a runner. At no point have I ever felt any inclination to run, or even jog. Not much of a walker either. It’s too much effort and it’s too slow. Walking is so slow that I sometimes wish I was running instead only to remember how much worse that would be. I’m a godawful pedestrian. I move slowly, mournfully, woefully, wishing that I was merely at my destination with no effort. And when I reach my destination, I spend my time there dreading the walk home.
My ideal form of navigating the world would be the same way I navigate my bed. An elaborate series of bounces and rolls accompanied by groans and soft chuckles. If I woke up one day and found that the sidewalks had been replaced by mattresses and scooting was now the preferred form of movement, I would assume I’d died and went to heaven. Or maybe Hell—once I have mattress sidewalks, what else is there to really enjoy? The world is too broken and gritty for mattress sidewalks. That’s a Teen Titans GO! idea and we’re living in a Zack Snyder world. So here I remain, in a world where sidewalks are made of sidewalks, wandering lethargically wishing that places would come to me instead.
There was a time when I moved my body with joy. It feels like yesterday. A decade and a half goes by so fast you’ve hardly got time to toss out the teddy bears before the beer bottles pile up. I still didn’t like walking or running or jogging, but when I was seven, I was a skipper. I loved to skip. I would skip through school. I would skip around playgrounds. I would skip around grocery stores, weaving around the cereal aisle before my mom made me hold the cart with one hand. And even then, scolded and shackled, I still skipped softly along. I loved skipping so much as a child. In pee-wee football practices, when we’d go through our pre-violence calisthenics, I looked forward to all our skipping-adjacent warm-ups. High knees, shuffling, carioca; that was the cat’s pajamas.
For years, I skipped through the world happily. Then one day, probably in late elementary school or middle school, when kids are too busy trying to be cool to actually be cool, my gait went from bouncy to lame for the final time and I didn’t even notice. My light-up sketchers were replaced by New Balances. My unironic Tap-Out T-shirt became an ironic Tap-Out T-shirt then a post-ironic Tap-Out T-shirt. The rhythm of childhood fades to be replaced by the trudge of adulthood.
It’s my own fault; I know that. I chose to act all cool and walk like the adults before me. I could have resisted, been the man who skipped around high school and college. But I forfeited that wish because I “wanted friends” and “would get tired.” Pathetic.
There used to be all these amazing ways for us to get around the world: skipping, prancing, galloping, crab-walking, etc. Walking was reserved for the somber occasions: you galloped to recess, you walked inside. And the world as an adult is a never ending series of somber occasions, but frankly, I wish I could skip anyway.
I wish I could skip into a bank and look pensively at my savings as I make another ill-advised withdrawal.
I wish I could skip into class three minutes late having already missed some very important detail that will assuredly cause me a great deal of grief in a few months.
I wish I could skip through a Walmart as I look around for Miralax.
What wouldn’t I give to skip free of worry? Probably neither of my legs because that seems a bit like a monkey’s paw, but I’d definitely give my left arm to skip judgement-free.
In reality, there’s nothing I could give that would let me skip. I’m destined to this slow-moving life, too lazy to run, too jaded to enjoy the sluggish speed. My skipping window has long passed.
But I hope that one day, when I’m old and awaiting the end, I’ll shed my feeble fears and skip regardless of observer opinion. And then, when I am liberated from the chains of society, I will prance freely through the plains of Kansas. Some will mistake me for a buffalo. The pure of heart will know I’m just a man unencumbered by the weight of the world.