The Walk: The Art of the Wave


I used to run around willy-nilly and use words like willy-nilly. I was a kid, living in the country-side. Then, five years ago, I moved to a city, then another and another.

This isn’t so bad, I think, making my way along a road in some green corner of Finland. I’ve been here twenty-four hours. The closest shop is two kilometers, I was told. I’ve got free time, so, I walk. The sun is out. It is the Finnish sun; St. Petersburg’s less temperamental cousin. I’ve brought my music with me: Whitney Houston.

As I walk I realize how colorful everything is. The word vibrant pops into my head. I suddenly realize that I haven’t thought, or spoken the word vibrant since I arrived in Russia.

“Vibrant,” I say aloud. It sounds weird, I put it away.

A car drives by. Instinctually, I shy away. The driver gives me a wide birth, he slows and then does something incredibly odd.

He waves.

My hand, not use to the gesture, hangs rudely at my side. I keep walking, I make a promise to myself that I will wave to the next driver. It doesn’t take long. A minute at most.

Over-eager, I hold my hand high and shake it wildly. The driver slows, stops.

“Oh, uh–sorry,” I call through the window, “I was just waving.”

The driver, a woman, smiles. She nods and drives on. I take a deep breathe. I look around.

“You used to know how to do this,” I remonstrate myself.

Across a field are some horses. I wave to one of them, casual. with a polite lilt that says, “howdy neighbor,” or the less creepy Finnish equivalent. I try again, then again. The horse doesn’t judge.

Finally, well-practiced, I trek onward. Perhaps two minutes later another car approaches, it is blue. I take a quick breath and lift my hand. I even give a little head-nod with it, as though I’ve suddenly become a natural.

The man, or maybe a woman–they are old–waves with half their hand on the steering wheel. I put my hand down, cool-like.

I wait till I can no longer hear the car. Then, I start to dance. I hit play on Whitney and up-my pace. I start singing aloud, throwing waves out to everything I see; flowers, horses, trees, clouds, bees; yes, even bees.

The country-side is lovely, I think, half-way to the store.


27 thoughts on “The Walk: The Art of the Wave

  1. A real feel-good story …. nice! It is astonishing how you be touched by such small things you consciously accept. Und winken ist etwas sehr Bejahendes! Just last week I was waiting in a fast food restaurant, the waiter jumped behind his dresen and pulled me out on the arm:” They make war, come! ” I was quite irritated, then he said: “wave!” And then came a military parade and I waved and the waiter was happy and the soldiers too. In the evening, I discovered a little girls at the window in the neighbourhouse, who was watching me. I waved to her too. Well, kids waving often. Oftentimes, I know the reaction already. She hesitated for a moment, then wake back and hid behind the curtain, looking carefully. Then we have been waving for a while until her mother has taken her away from the window. Thank you for the beautiful story!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’m from a small town (just below 200K people maybe), and it’s not uncommon for people to wave or acknowledge each other with a subtle brief honk, when driving by. But that’s because most people know each other, and tend stick to their usual daily routes – waving to strangers would likely make you look like a weirdo, as in most small places in Russia.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I wonder what Russians who move to small towns in America think. It is fairly common to just casual wave to strangers. I can certainly imagine that not going over too well in Russia, at least in my experience. true.


      1. Yeah, probably don’t try it 🙂
        As for Russians in smaller American towns – depends on the person, I guess. Living in a town just outside of a major US city, and seeing people in the neighborhood casually nodding and sharing a smile with me felt very welcoming, so I always smiled back. Gives a sense of being a part of the community – nice feeling.


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