Isn’t it funny that things we remember. The things we take away from the places we’ve been.
Pear street. I remember it, because I ran down it hundreds of times. It was near the middle, the turn-around point, of the route I ran at least once a week, over four years. That was Victoria.
Rideau Road. A steady climb in the darkness, through the long days of winter, up to tour around houses I couldn’t afford. Sometimes I would see an early riser, drinking a coffee in the kitchen window, staring out, unaware they were being watched. Seeing people when they don’t see you is fascinating. That was Calgary.
6th Avenue. That was generally a sunny run, because the town was called Golden and it always was. Along a golf course and past breathtaking mountain vistas, it was always a little difficult – maybe because I was 1700 meters above sea level, or maybe because when you see such huge mountains around you, you feel small. That was Colorado.
Azcuenaga. The right turn, barely twenty seconds out the door. Then straight, straight, and in five minutes I was running past Recoleta cemetery, perhaps the most famous cemetery in the world. And then it was left on Alcorta, in the early morning hours, when the city was slightly, but just barely, quieter than the other times of day. The porteros were washing the streets in front of their buildings, an oddity I’ve seen nowhere else. Every morning, scrubbing away the grime and removing the traces of thousands of footsteps. That was Buenos Aires.
Am Weinberg. Literally, translating to “on the vineyard”. The steep slope I would run, which in decades past had literally been the slopes of a vineyard. Up, up, until I was running at the top of the hill, on top of a bunker from World War II. The early morning light would spread across the sleeping houses below me, twinkling lights of rising sleepers. It’s fascinating really, the things we run up and over, the history which is now only a mound of grass. That was Kassel.
Maybe it’s because I repeated these routes so many times. Saw, so many times, the same bush, the same shopkeepers opening for the day, the same tired souls standing at bus stops. They’re just streets, just names, but uttering them brings thousands of emotions screaming back.
Sometimes when I run, I’m angry. Sometimes, I’m tired. Sometimes, I am blissful, and marvel at the sheer beauty of things around me. But the street is the same. And it was there yesterday, and it will be there tomorrow. And on angry days I barely notice it. My head is so full of racing thoughts that I am running to get out of breath, to breath hard until the physical pain overcomes the mental pain and I no longer have to think about it. On happy days the street is everywhere. The sounds, the steady rhythm of my feet, the cold air, the progress. It is all good.
Some people think a run is a chore. I don’t. It’s a story. It’s a daydream of the past. It’s a wish for something to come. On the best days, it’s nothing at all. To run for miles and think of nothing. . . that’s the hardest one.