Monday, January 7, 2013

A Sandy Landy Walk

I've always walked a little differently than most people. A little slower, a little more deliberate, with a little more jaunt in my gait. My father thinks it's my mother's influence: her delicate dancer walk that she passed onto me just like her crooked half smile and her habit of talking to strangers. My mother thinks it comes from my father: she's forever asking both of us to step just a little bit lighter when we clomp down the stairs like a Clydesdale horse. My best friend Dale blames it on the high heels that he encourages me to wear. While he enjoys a good high heel as much as the next gay guy, he is forever getting mad at me for being so darn slow.

My other best friend Meribeth refers to my walk as "The Midwest Saunter," as if it's a dance or something. She laughingly accuses me of meandering every time she beats me from the parking lot to the bookstore where we have coffee sometimes. My cousin Allison encourages me to hike more, thinking that someday I might actually pick up my pace through nature's good influence. My fiancé Paul and my dog Bo know that isn't the case; I've been walking every single day in the fresh air of Studio City since April 7th when Bo first came home. Paul is forever irritated that I can't "pick up the pace". Luckily Bo is just happy to be out for a walk and pulls no matter what.

I was never quite sure exactly who taught me how to walk the way I did. Until one day at work, when someone commented on my stride. And I knew who had taught me to walk like that. I was just walking, really, and I wasn't wearing any special shoes. Just a simple pair of black heels with a rather tame two and a half inch chunky heel, the kind of thing you probably wore in the late 90s. I was just walking, really. Maybe it was the first day of spring. Or maybe I was going to a movie that night with my friends. Or maybe I was just happy. I got to the end of the hallway where my friend was clapping as though he had just seen something really awesome.

In the room next to him someone had been playing a track off of the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Misirlou by Dick Dale and the Del Tones. If you haven't heard it, that's okay, it sounds like something out of a sixties surf movie with a guitar going crazy sliding all over the place. The song basically begs anyone who hears it to get up and boogie on the sand with Annette. Well, unbeknownst to me, I had been walking perfectly in sync to the music, my hips swaying and sashaying, my walk keeping time with the melody and harmony and beat. "You are the only person in the world who that could happen to, Ilana," my friend said. I realized that he was quite wrong.

I am positive that same experience, only maybe a different song, perhaps something by Sinatra, has happened to my Aunt Sandy Landy. She was the woman who taught me how to walk. She's had style and sass and flash. She had a powerful mind and an even more powerful spirit, which all some how magically intertwine in her walk. She taught me the importance of a beautiful shoe, but more importantly she taught me the importance of a beautiful walk.

She walked slower than the average person, so she could take it all in. Also so the world could take her all in too. She swung her hips, just a little bit, even into her 70s, knowing that a strong, sexy woman can take over the world if she really wants to. She held her head straight and her back even straighter, because she knew that posture tells everyone how you feel about yourself. She walked with her eyes forward, looking at everything and taking everyone in, drinking and feeling and seeing and living and walking. She walked the walk of a woman who was proud of herself.

This walk is not genetic or learned or taught or forced or changeable as my friends and family would like to believe. This walk is a metaphor, a meaning, figure of speech, a part of your soul, an attitude that you either have or you don't. Can you imagine for a moment how different the world would be if everyone walked like Sandy Landy? I'm not saying world peace or anything like that. But there would definitely be a greater global confidence. People would see more and smile more and would feel a little bit happier about everything in general. With their heads up and their backs straight and their hips swinging side to side to an imaginary beat. People would no longer just walk. They would feel free to meander to amble to ramble to roam to stroll to saunter to strut to swagger to promenade to parade to smile without fear and with glee. A walk of confidence and happiness and chutzpah. A walk of style and substance and glamour. A Sandy Landy walk.

RIP Sandra Marlene Landy
December 5, 2012