Friday, July 15, 2011

Fleeting Youth

The lady on the left side of the street was moving on past me. I was on the right side, sticking to the sidewalk. She was running up the shoulder, sticking close to the bike path. I felt much safer, but watched as she continued to leave me behind. I was running in the third state in almost as many days, and I started making excuses almost immediately. The air was thin here in Boulder. The altitude was playing havoc with my senses, and I was weary from the long flight just the day before. I figured I should get some credit for all the miles I had covered on land, sea and air over the past couple of weeks.
Or maybe she was just in better shape than I was. Whatever the circumstance, I took a bigger breath of the available oxygen and kept my legs moving. I thought about how I used to run out of my one-bedroom apartment, so many years ago, and keep going until I found myself up in the canyons to the west, across the city and back again. Rain, sleet, snow, dark. Scurrying about without any mail to deliver, just keeping myself busy by running.
That was a long time ago. It was even longer ago that I used to ride my five speed Schwinn up the nearly vertical incline on top of which stood my junior high. I ran down that hill and was surprised to see how shallow the slope had become over the years. Maybe I was shorter then. Maybe the earth had leveled itself substantially in my absence. Some things hadn't changed. The chain link fence around the house on Nineteenth Street was still there. The fence was notable primarily because it helped me remember the spot where a passing bird had deposited his mark on my swinging arm. Eighth grade. A long time ago. I thought of all the times I had walked, run, driven and otherwise moved up and down that street. Now I was running down the hill, only to turn a couple more corners to run back up a hill. And watch as the lady in purple moved on ahead of me. That's okay. She's probably new to the area.

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