Why I Walk This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   This morning while I was cleaning up my ever-messy room, my father knocked on the door and asked if I wanted to go driving. By the tone of his voice I could tell that he wasn't going to be doing the driving, it would be me. "Sure," I said, as I began to picture myself crashing into curbs and other people's parked cars, "I guess I have to start sometime."

I will be among the first in my high school class to turn 18, but among the last to learn how to drive. For my friends it started years ago: the anticipation of their hands on the steering wheel, the accelerator under their foot, and especially, the freedom of the open road stretching out endlessly ahead of them.

While my friends were picking up their licenses sophomore year, I was picking up excuses: "I don't want to put myself or anyone else in danger," "It would only contribute to the pollution of the environment," "I can't really afford it." Though these statements all contained a certain amount of truth, they were only hiding the real reason: I simply had no desire to drive. Why? In part because I just didn't want to place my trust in that monstrous piece of man-made machinery, but what I realize now is that I was afraid of becoming dependent. For my peers, driving meant freedom, for me it represented a restraint. I didn't want to learn how to drive because then I would have to pay for insurance and gas which meant I'd have to get a job and then I'd probably have to drive to that job. I was afraid of entering a vicious circle I wouldn't be able to get out of.

I have walked to and from school almost every day since fifth grade. When neighbors pass, even on cold and snowy days, they rarely offer me a ride because they know I prefer to walk. For me, walking is the way I see the changing of the seasons. If I didn't have to walk through some snow, I'd feel as though I'd missed out on winter. Likewise if I didn't get to see the violets coming up from under the pine needles on the side of the road, I'd feel as though I'd missed out on a part of spring. Walking in the morning helps me wake up and prepare for school. In the afternoon it helps clear my mind after my classes.

When I walk somewhere, I become more deliberate about where I am going. I arrive at my destination with energy and focus. It helps me to appreciate the time I spend there because I know it must be worth the effort I took to get there.

If my father asks me again next weekend if I want to go driving, I will answer him "yes." I want to learn how to drive because I know I will have to drive. It is a skill one needs in order to function in this society. For now, though, while I can, I prefer to walk, not because it is different but because it makes sense to me, because it is part of my independence. -


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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