Monday, September 5, 2011

Running With Ghosts...

Running with Ghosts

Tonight I ran the lonely streets of my hometown under a veiled moon made fuzzy by lingering clouds. The downward hill propelled me into the heart of our hamlet and the memories of the Farmington A/G, long replaced by green space filled my mind. I still find myself missing that store.

I continued down State Street, my aging legs and nearly unused running shoes slowly clopped across the ancient uneven sidewalks. I ran past a school district building—one of many school district buildings in our little town—then to buildings dating back before one great world war, but most likely, not the other.

I turned north at Main and see before me a gentle slope rising upward. I can’t even begin to think how many times I walked, ran, or rode my bike across those same sidewalk rectangles, most raised by the mighty roots of the elder sycamore trees that line both sides of the town’s main road, a road that acts like an aorta—bringing life into the town for decades. The same sycamores, along with lights from the street and the homes, create a tunnel which invites me forward into the night air.

I passed buildings, businesses, a church. Friends, acquaintances, neighbors all lived on those streets and in those homes. One friend with whom I played as a child is in prison. Other friends made different decisions and most have moved away.

I turned at the hill’s apex and head east, toward the mountain, toward home. More houses; more memories. I began my descent on a road and remember a time years ago when the city re-paved a pothole-covered road and three of us took full advantage of the new blacktop and rode skateboards (that only marginally resemble skateboards of today) down the road and had a wonderful time.

The lowering of elevation made the running easier. I passed another street and I remember that particular street was where my father, riding a go-cart he built for my older brother’s scout program, crashed on the go-cart he built. He hit his head and when he went to the hospital for a check-up they found a brain tumor. The tumor ended up taking the life of a man who survived the Great Depression and several missions as a tail gunner in a B-17 over Germany as WWII came to an end.

I ran on, the music from my phone pushing my tired legs (seriously, how in the world did we ever enjoy running before iPods and/or cell phones w/MP3 players?). Eventually the street intersects State Street and the hill rises before me, a final challenge to the night’s run.

Many years ago a dear friend asked me how I was able to walk that hill everyday. I thought about it the next time I walked home from school. “It’s interesting,” I told him. “When it starts to get real steep, you’re half-way up the hill. If you just keep going, the next thing you know, you’re on top.” I ran up the hill tonight and only stopped when I reached my street. The moon rewarded me by escaping through the drifting clouds. My cell phone/camera was all I had to capture the moment, but the best camera ever built could not capture the experience I had running with memories—running with ghost.

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