Exclusive essay for Guardian Cities: David Sedaris has walked through cities all over the world and the worst, by far, is Bangkok
Like most people, I’ve been walking since I was a year old. I started doing it seriously when I was 13 or so, and as a result my calf muscles are massive, like hams. My family’s house was at the furthest edge of Raleigh, North Carolina – in the last suburb there was – so in the beginning, I’d walk in the country. Then, like an overturned bucket of molasses, the town grew. One development followed another, and I found myself wandering through neighborhoods so new they smelled of plywood, which actually smells of formaldehyde. Driving didn’t appeal to me for some reason. Working didn’t either, but my parents forced me to earn my own money when I turned 16. I found a job in a cafeteria – washing dishes – and would most often walk there and back. “That far!” my friends would say. It surprised me to learn that none of them would think of covering that distance on foot.
I’ve always had an active fantasy life, so that’s what I devoted my walking hours to: daydreaming. The life I imagined for myself trudging through Raleigh, soaked through with filthy dishwater, was exactly the life I wound up with. “I’m going to write books and live overseas with a ridiculously good-looking, artistic boyfriend. Then I’ll buy a beach house everyone can use and …”