When I was younger I used to walk a lot. It all started when I was a teenager still living at home with my parents. I'd sneak out the backdoor when everyone else was in bed and just walk and walk. We had a dog at the time which was quite active so I would take it with me and she loved it too. When it heard me come creeping down the stairs, or go near the back door at night it'd prick its ears up, asking if we were going out again.
I was born and raised in Scotland by the shore so there were always loads of walks, loads of great views and interesting places. I'd have all sorts of routes I'd go on, a lot by the shore, but some high up to the hills behind my home town where you could see for miles. When you have insomnia and a mind that never stops racing, just getting out for a walk can be quite calming and relaxing and I'd always have my Walkman for company. It beats being cooped up indoors with things just running over and over in your mind. Even when the dog eventually passed away I'd still go on the same walks into the early hours.
When I had to move away from home to spend my placement year in industry I was once again by the coast, once again racked with insomnia and restless thoughts. The difference now was that I didn't need to sneak out, but I still had miles and miles and coastal walks, walks around town too. This was back when Sunday trading laws were still tight and the whole town centre would be deserted like a scene from "28 Days Later". I don't know where everybody went…but I still walked around.
For my first real job after university I moved into a land-locked concrete jungle, however I was soon finding good routes to walk at night, although walking soon gave way to driving and I'd go on nightly jaunts in my car rather than walking. Again I'd have all sorts of routes that would loop through local towns and villages, maybe stopping at a service station along the way, then back home.
When I stopped living on my own the walking kind of stopped. The main reason is that people thought it was "odd". How could I explain to a girl that I was just nipping out for an hour or so. "Where are you going?" "Nowhere, just for a walk." "Where?" "Nowhere really". In fact I even recall being stopped by the police on one of my early hours sojourns and they wanted to know what I was doing out at such an hour. "Nothing, just walking". When the late-night walks stopped I think a part of me stopped too.
I have moved again and once more I have found myself back at the coast, I don't think I could ever really live away it from it now. I've been here for years but still no routes. No walking routes or driving routes. Instead I spend the early hours watching DVDs or TV or drinking or playing my XBOX. I was feeling quite cooped up and agitated tonight. I'd had a bad day at work and was feeling anxious about a few things. To get myself out of the flat I took a walk to Blockbuster for some popcorn to accompany my movie for the night. It's only a 10 minute walk so I was there and back with my salted treats in no time. Except I didn't go back into the flat, I just tossed them into the porch and headed out to the beach.
I can't believe in all the time I've lived here I've never taken a late-night walk down to the beach. It wasn't that late so some people were still there, disturbing the silence. The piers are closed but there was a small group sitting around a fire on the beach playing acoustic guitars. Further along people were still kicking a ball around under the promenade lights. I took the long walk away from the promenade, into the darkness and toward where the waves were crashing. Such a sound, it's hypnotic. I walked along the water line where the sand was firm under foot and not hard to walk on at all. The sounds of the guitars and balls were soon lost to the sea's waves and I stared across the massive, black void to be alone with my thoughts.