Monday, October 19, 2009
Sun Lit Path
I was sick for the past two days. Not the swine flu, you media freak. . . but something strong enough to keep me dizzy and constantly honking my nose. I didn't change clothes, nor shave nor shower. Just wore a dirty stocking cap and a sweater with holes in the armpits. Looked like a beast that had emerged from a coal mine. At night I hallucinated about man-eating worms and being buried alive in a milk carton. Weird. I know. A song kept playing in my head. The Dead? Nope. Some goth crybaby crap that I must have heard on radio1190.org. Sunset Rubdown. Or Peter Murphy. Who knows. What's the sum up? Three days without running. And two weeks until I need twenty-six. Shoot. I'm so screwed.
So it's dawn. M is rosy-cheeked. Dressed like Wonder Woman. Bright. Red, white and blue. She is tapering, but who can tell? She plans thirteen at marathon pace. I'm supposed to do eleven. Huh? Maybe I'll walk to the end of the driveway and hitch a ride back. What does the calendar say? asks M. Dammit. I had crumpled the calendar over a month ago. But M somehow resurrected it. And she is back on schedule. I shrug and wave as she goes out the door. See you on the trail! Yeah, sure.
After guzzling my coffee, I get dressed in all black. Hey, I may as well play it up? I decide to try four miles. The plan: hit the urban trial, head for the first rock, turn around, come home, die. I haven't done a run this short for two months. When I walk out the door the sun blinds me. Bright light! Ouch! Stop it! You stupid ball of fire! Quit! I cower until my eyes adjust. The sky is a bubbling blue. All the trees have their limbs outstretched. The pine cones seem to be singing. Squirrels are holding hands. Birds are making garlands in the air. A neighbor wanders down his driveway to get the newspaper. He gives a big smile. Morning! I pretend not to hear. All I can think about is wanting to kill the guy. If only I had the strength.
When I hit the urban trail, I pass a half-dozen runners, some with dogs. They all wave and give a cheery hello. A parade of yellow and white spandex. Why is everyone so happy to see me? I do my best to mumble something. My speed is close to thirteen-minute miles. My head is pounding. After a mile or two, I see a blue jay. It starts following me. The stupid thing hops from tree to tree. And then it starts singing. Chirp. Chirp. Chirp. What am I Cinderella or something? I start to laugh. The world is being absolutely ridiculous. I pull out my camera to try and capture the jay, but the sun is at the wrong angle. I don't feel like climbing through the woods. So, I only manage to get a silhouette.
I make it to the rock without much difficulty. Actually, I'm feeling okay. This over-exposed, optimistic, everything's-okay world is starting to wear on me, though. In the glow, I consider doing five miles. Maybe I'll just go to the second rock? But once I hit Fort Tuthill, the place is like a zoo of happy-go-lucky runners. They all want to say hi. Ugh. I have two choices. Either turn around. Or go up Soldier's Loop, which means doing at least six miles. The blue jay jumps in front of me and blurts something. And then the sun inches up in the sky and hits a perfect angle so that the entire trial is lit up (see photo above). Oh my god. This is preposterous. Is the sun himself (or herself), telling me to take Soldier's Loop? I stop running and shake my head. Fine, I say out loud. I'll do it.
So, I head up Soldier's and add on a few miles, doing a modified loop, or what I like to call Cub-scout's Loop. It is madly beautiful, with the sun lighting the entire trail. Truckin comes on my player. Yeah, you know the song. Go ahead. Sing along, dead freaks. Sometime the light's all shining on me. Other times, I can barely see. Lately, it occurs to me. What a long strange trip it's been. Yeah, yeah. Wonderful. Today, I'm special. I guess that makes me the anointed one.
But now, here is my question. Why today? On the lowest of my low points. On the day when I feel the crappiest. Why now light my trail? Why stitch everything in the cosmos together? Why have the gears of the universe work in sync? Why make everything merry with the magical mystery machine? It's obviously a joke. And not even a clever one. I'm totally being messed with. . .
Anyway, the six miles went slow and easy. When I got home. M and L were getting ready to go see a movie (Where the Wild Things Are). I gobbled down a bagel and told them to wait up. Let me at least shave and shower!.