I don't even think that “flâneuse” is a word. It is a movement, poetry-in-motion, an act of self discovery. That is why, to be a flâneuse, to be that special person inside of you who strolls around in urban affluence and existential purposefulness, who revisits their city with the determination of an explorer, is also a title you gain for yourself after some time. It is such a pity that when we ask young girls what they want to be when they grow up, we very rarely hear them answer “I want to be a passante, a wanderer!”
I wonder in which part of our body this type of ambition lies dormant. I wonder whether psychosomatic problems later in life can be attributed to the fact that we have not walked all the walks that we were born for. However, not everything is lost - the poetic version of walking, the wandering desire, has gained in popularity since the COVID19 pandemic and even because of it: is it too late to become the Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir*, the Isabella Bird**, at least the Nellie Bly*** of our worlds?
Yes, many of us cannot yet resume traveling to faraway places. But starting with your city, alone, no explanations needed and no strings attached, resembles the feeling of holding your torso up and attempting balance the way you had to do as a baby in order to take that first baby step. And then another. And another. We live our lives literally or metaphorically one step at a time. Now we have to cover for the miles we lost during lockdown.
Let's rediscover our neighborhoods, secret alleys, unknown paths and exciting hotspots. Let's number our city's bookshops, one by one. We could choose new, favorite roads to take, go sightseeing with the curiosity of a tourist and write down all the streets that bear female names on the way. We could change route, reclaim our space, question all former terminals.
Oh come on, let's be flâneuses...
* Icelandic explorer (born 980 - 1019)
** English traveler (born 1831 - 1904)
*** Investigative journalist who traveled around the world in 72 days (born 1864 - 1922)