the perfect mile

Walking slow down the avenue
through my old neighborhood
don’t know why I’m happy
I’ve got no reason to feel this good
— the prophet Jackson Browne

What do you do when you think maybe you’re not going to die after all? You go for a run.

I’ve been in a tailspin for a while because I thought I was riding off into the sunset. Then my doctor told me that yes, indeed, I’m going to die, but he won’t be responsible. And besides I made fun of his haircut, so he’s OK with it.

And so here I am. Just a little trot on the Whataburger loop. Funny. I find myself plotting a course so that when I call 911 I can give good instructions. “Thomas Road next to the crazy homeless guys at the bus bench!” or “Hayden Road next to the crazy homeless guys at the bus bench.” Did I mention my neighborhood has a lot of crazy homeless guys and bus benches? I suspect they followed me from Corpus. Do crazy homeless guys know CPR? Or maybe CCR? I would enjoy dying with “Willie and the Poor Boys” wafting through the air. Music doesn’t waft enough these days, you know.

I go with the Zantes because they make me think I’m a high school cheerleader, and I could use the boost. Do crazy homeless guys build cheerleader pyramids? If you stop to build a crazy homeless guy pyramid is it OK to pause the Garmin? I should really talk to the guys more. Marginalized people are still people. I think about the time I had the long conversation with the crazy homeless guy who assumed I was a crazy homeless guy as well. I’ve never been so honored.

It’s not much. I’m sort of scared to push. I have a hot date with the cardio guy in a few weeks to find out about the monkey heart, which I now assume is going to be the problem. And that will be the Bad One, because I don’t think anything can be done about it. But you celebrate a day at a time, yeah? So I hit start.

It’s that same familiar feeling I’ve had a million times. A love affair in motion. The slow start, the search for a rhythm, four steps per breath till you hit three steps and then two and then look for the crazy homeless guys. The joy of doing that One Thing in life you were meant to do. Clockwise. Always, always  clockwise. Why is it that you run courter-clockwise on the track and it feels right, but on a road loop it has to be clockwise? Why is it that having cars coming at me from behind feels better? I guess I’d rather be smacked without knowing what happened than to watch an Escalade coming directly at me with no chance of escape.

I love the Whataburger loop because it has a Whataburger AND a fast-food Mexican joint. That might be a bit of overkill when you’e just running a mile, but you never know. Besides, the crazy homeless guys love the guacamole shakes. It’s just a short loop, 0.55 miles. Parking lot to Thomas to Hayden to parking lot. Lots of shade from the parking lot covers. Speed bumps, bus stops, Steve the Maintenance Guy and Steve the Other Maintenance Guy. Pass by Char’s place, go past the start line. Repeat as necessary.

I run it twice, getting in exactly a mile. A sub-15 mile, which would have been mortifying in a previous life, but makes me happy today. It’s something. A start. A comeback or a goodbye or just another verse of late for the sky. Whatever. It’s mine.

I hit stop. I think about the past, I worry about the future. I embrace the now. I ran a mile.

It was perfect.

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About gary

no sock monkeys were harmed in the making of this blog.
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