For most of the summer I was alone on a day-to-day basis. My two roommates had fled for the greener pastures of British Columbia by mid-May. So I was stuck in my apartment, occasionally seeing friends around the city, but without the default company of those in my house that I had come to rely on. Without people to share dinnertime and evening drinks with, I began to go a bit stir-crazy. In a simple attempt to vary up my routine, I started taking post-dinner walks.
I’ve always appreciated walking, and even before COVID I was well aware of a good walk’s therapeutic effects. In high school, when experiencing a rocky adjustment to antidepressants, my mom and I would take a walk every afternoon as a way to force myself out of my bed-cave; fresh air and exercise always helped to give me some perspective.
So, it only made sense that I would adopt this routine again in the summer of COVID, when most of us were (or still are) on the brink of mental breakdown. Typically, after dinner I’d grab my CJLO tote bag, put on my headphones, and walk out of my door, with no direction in mind.
I live in the upper Plateau, on the edge of Mile End, so I made a point to walk through all the idyllic alleys of the neighbourhood, covered in quirky graffiti and murals with large trees draping over the road. Taking my evening strolls made me feel more connected to the city. Typically, I’m a fast, aggressive walker, so being able to really take my time and absorb the environment around me without any specific destination gave me a new appreciation for my pretty little borough.
Walking is also the only thing that has been able to rip me away from my various screens. Throughout quarantine, it seemed like the only thing consuming my time was Netflix and falling down rabbit holes of YouTube video essays. So, breaking up the monotony with some physical exercise became a necessity. That’s not to say I didn’t find a way to continue to absorb media through my walks. Podcasts became a necessary staple for my long strolls. A 50 minute WTF with Marc Maron or You’re Wrong About became the soundtrack to most of my Montreal adventures this summer. I had always used my home to school metro transit as my time to wind down from the day and catch up on my favourite podcasts, so I’m glad that habit hasn’t had to go away completely.
I think I’ll continue to go on my walks until the weather forces me to stop. Even now that we are permitted to be a bit more social than earlier in COVID, it’s still important to take time with yourself and your thoughts. For me, it’s a nice long walk, but everyone’s different.
Graphic by Taylor Reddam