#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 16

#LockdownDiary – One of many – Day 16

Day 16

I jump to the left. I jump backwards. Nimble on my feet I adjust my distance to the person in front of me. They seem unsure where to go and unaware I am here.

In my head, an 8-bit repetitive video game music is playing. Bip bop bop bip. The longer I can navigate this moment, the harder it gets. Except that it doesn’t get harder. The person turns to their right and enter the road I am aiming for too. But for an instant it was fun. I didn’t have to think about the consequences of getting too close.

As a cyclist, I spend a lot of time judging distances and speeds. It comes naturally and I barely have to think about it. I know that this car at this speed is going to reach me at this point if I too keep at this pace. It’s a micro second that helps me navigate the road and remain safe. But as a pedestrian I have never had to think this way.

Walking is, in part, about not thinking. My body takes over and I am free to wonder and wander. There are boundaries that keep me safe. The pavement is not for cars, the red light will stop the bus. Those boundaries are gone now and a walk requires thoughts and analysis. There are cars to take into account but also cyclists, runners, and other pedestrians.

I am less aware of their speed and behaviour, especially now. Will this cyclist swerve from the edge of the pavement or will they remain where they are? At this speed, if they don’t swerve, I have to, but there isn’t anywhere for me to go to but a wall. Is this runner going to step out of the pavement or are they expecting me to move? Is there a car coming because if there is, I won’t be able to get away? Is the runner going to stop? What about this pedestrian coming through this narrow alleyway? Are they going to push on or are they going to backtrack to let me go? I am further in but should I go back to where I came from and wait for them to pass?

It is exhausting to learn those new behaviours but today they felt a little more natural. I was able to carry on talking with my partner while taking in my surroundings and adjusting my pace and space accordingly. It hasn’t been very long but already my brain is falling into patterns it recognises. If this road is busy then I will not go there. If this runner does not stop and a car passes by, I know where I can quickly escape. If this cyclist doesn’t swerve, I know I can hurry to a safer space.

Walking still allows me to wonder and wander but not in the same way. It is becoming akin to cycling in a city. My senses are on hyper alert. I have to calculate a dozen equations at a time if I am to survive. And although this is becoming more natural, some days it is too much and I stay in.

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