After a long day of chores and paperwork that I had been avoiding, I sat down to supper with my bears. The cubs were cranky from a long day of studying for exams, and when I started prodding as to what had been done, my youngest exclaimed in irritation, “Why do I talk to you? All you do is rave.” I had a brief moment where I thought, I’ll show you raving, but I came to my senses and let him be a tired, frustrated kid. I put on my sneakers and headed out the door for a walk, hoping to get my head and heart back in order.
I left my headphones behind, determined just to think and for the first half mile, my thoughts centered on how messed up my knee was. I could feel the hitch in my step and wallowed in self-pity until I saw a family approaching. Three boys under ten rode bikes while dad pushed a stroller and had a large grey dog on a leash. “Dad, race me, race me.” And they were off in a burst of yelling, the boys outpacing dad, the stroller, and the dog. Mom followed behind, walking slowly in yoga pants and a tank top, literally barefoot and smiling. A beetle zoomed through my hair and then settled on my neck for a quick bite before I swatted him away.
A half a mile further down the road I broke a sweat, and a pair of runners crossed my path. I heard the one coming from behind because she scraped her feet with her step. She made that squeaky sneaker noise that comes from leading with your toes, and as she passed, she hiked up her too big running skirt and drifted to the right to avoid the woman approaching. The second wore a bright green running bra and was leaning forward as she ran. I wondered if that form was what the Chi Running was talking about. Maybe if I’d found my Chi a couple of years ago, my knee wouldn’t be so messed up.
The setting sun began to turn the sky pink, and I realized this was probably just about the last cool evening before the heat of Florida set in and cool temps only lived between midnight and dawn. Two men in their twenties played catch in the street, comparing their spirals while their children romped in the front lawn. A little dog in a blue sweater escaped his leash and ran up behind me yapping ferociously until I turned to meet him, and he ran away again. I heard a cracking sound that turned out to be a man trying to knock down cans with a leather whip. I wondered, what kind of life do you have to lead to make that skill useful?
As a rounded the last turn of the route I have probably run a thousand times, I lifted my feet to run a little, even though I knew I shouldn’t. A hundred strides in I felt a twinge and the aching began so I slowed up at my driveway as a pair of ducks floated down to my front lawn. The mama was so pale. An albino, I realized as she waddled off into the bushes for the night. I waddled into the house as well, my head on straight, my heart at peace.