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Walking the Way It Was Meant to Be Done

When I first returned to New York City after moving away during the pandemic, I was reminded of the joys of city walking

Eve Peyser
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readFeb 25, 2022

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Photo: Stéphan Valentin/Unsplash

It was my first time back in New York City in nine months and I was walking from Times Square to my mom’s place in the East Village. I was going fast, knocking down the blocks like dominos, while also taking in all the greatness New York City had to offer me: a lowbrow art gallery advertising truly hideous emoji-centric paintings in their front window, the life-size images of Fox News hosts pasted outside the network’s headquarters, which astonishingly had not been vandalized at all (c’mon, New York City!), pageant girls wearing sashes and posing as a crowd of people took their pictures on Broadway, and an abandoned storefront, graffitied, with a sign promising “COMING FALL 2019… Poki Bowl.”

In September 2020, I moved away from the city where I was born and raised, to Reno, Nevada. You don’t see many people walking on the street here. It’s not that the people of Reno don’t exercise; there are tons of places to hike and mountain bike in the area and multiple bodies of water on which to do sports. There are gyms, public basketball courts, and baseball diamonds. But if you want to get from point A to point B, walking is a pretty inefficient way to do it. There is no guarantee of a sidewalk. From my understanding, in a fair amount of American cities, walking is relegated to the destitute, for those who simply cannot afford cars, and that is how it feels in Reno.

Coming home to New York City, I was reacquainted with the joys of walking as a means of transportation. On my first day back, I walked from my mom’s apartment to my sister’s on the Upper East Side, and I was going very, very fast. It had been a long time since I properly got to speedwalk. I am a long-legged person and my natural pace is faster than almost all of my loved ones. When I walk with other people, I often take great pains to slow myself down. But at that moment, I had rid myself of my snail friends, alone on the streets of Manhattan, in the most familiar place in the world, at last free to glide instead of amble.

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Eve Peyser
Human Parts

nyc native living in the pnw. read my writing in the new york times, nymag, vice, and more.