A long pedestrian and bicycle bridge spans the Arkansas River, linking Little Rock and North Little Rock. It’s built over a dam. It’s called the Big Dam Bridge. Like thousands of other people, I go walk there. Often. It’s kind of a big balm bridge, a place for more being, less doing. Less mind, more body. There’s much to notice at the Big Dam Bridge. For example, varieties of walking two by two.
How to walk alongside someone
• Side by side but not matching stride, not touching, politely taking turns speaking and listening, both looking down as if watching where they’re walking, maybe the hint of a smile in the corner of a mouth.
• Bodies not touching, but voices overlapping, open grins, chins higher, looking farther ahead, taking turns looking at each other but not at the same time.
• Hands in pockets, elbows touching, alternately watching where they’re going and looking at each other at the same time.
• Hands free, close enough that their backs accidentally meet.
• Taking the occasional step sideways, so shoulders bump on purpose.
• One walking backwards, facing the other.
• One breaking into a goofy sprint for no apparent reason, then stopping and watching and waiting for the other to catch up.
• Hands jammed hard in pockets, self-conscious about where they’d rather be.
• In step, pinkies linked.
• In step, holding hands.
• Arms around each other, hands anchored on the curve of the waist.
• Arms around each other, one’s hand on the far hip, the other’s hand in the first’s back pocket.
• Jogging in stride, with individual iPods.
• In awkward silence.
• In tense silence.
• In relaxed silence.
• In contented silence.
• One silent; one talking to a cell phone.
• His arm around her shoulder, his hand cupping her arm as if to warm or reassure her.
• His arm draped across her shoulder, the hand loose at the wrist, gesturing in the air as he talks.
• Matching stride, talking freely, looking ahead, each at the end of a dog’s leash.
• Each with one hand on a corner of the stroller.
“How to walk alongside someone” was originally published here on Feb. 13, 2013.