Walking Cross-Town. Under the Rainbow.

rainbow-child-country-boy-running

50° F, mid-January. Shameful, I know, but if this is global warming, fill me up, give me more, take me Home to Spring.

I wait for the light to turn and look up squinting, the Sun beams warm the bones, the soul.

I cross Madison and head up 48th.

The City that never sleeps is in peripatetic flight – cabs zigzagging, buses spewing exhaust, delivery trucks unloading the day’s provisions, couriers on bikes, commuters with one foot on gas, one hand on horn, street sweepers with rotating brushes raising dust, garbage trucks with their putrid stench, shopkeepers lifting their steel grates, street vendors setting out their apples, bananas and bagels – – and thoughts.

Walking these same concrete streets in a New Year. No cake, no candles, no party hats at 10 years. Here walks an off-center screw, never quite center, never just right – and yet the hand re-grips, shredding those fine threads, tightening and tightening cross-thread. Must find Proof. [Read more…]

Running. Grounded by Stillness.

bird-mirror-introspection

15° F, feels like 5° F. Winter.

Gazing out the window with Haight: “How is it that the snow amplifies the silence…

Fox, with its long bushy tail, glances right furtively, tip toes through the snow and disappears.

Finches flutter to the feeders, feed, then flit away. Seeds darken the fresh snow below.

A shovel scrapes a driveway down the street, scarring the silence of the morning. Plows awaken in the distance, cold steel to asphalt, teeth on tin foil.

Oil heat courses through the veins of the house, warming. (Families, less than 50 miles away in the boroughs, huddle to warm, thermostats turned down, working to make budget.) [Read more…]

Running. Day 1, 2017.

bird-focus-look-down

Day 1, 2017.

A morning for reflection, lallygagging, and awe of a poem written by Stanley Kunitz: “still-wet words…scribbled on the blotted page: ‘Light splashed …’

Still-wet words. Light splashed. Wow. 

Sun beams pour in through the window, light splashes but does not lift this load…God, it’s so warm under these covers. How about reading, watching movies, and remaining horizontal?

10am. I need to exercise. Now! Sigh. What a state of mind on Day 1.

Mile 1

How about New Year’s resolutions? How about Not?  You’ve long since given up on Resolutions. You know the loop. Commit. Attempt. Renege in less than 30 days. Then self-flagellate for the remaining 11 months. Who needs it? Really?

Mile 2

I appreciated the punch line of Try a New Year’s Revolution: “I will work toward better days for myself…May Januarys be about self-acceptance, not self-improvement.” LOVE THAT.

Mile 3

“May Januarys be about self-acceptance, not self improvement.” I don’t think I can do that. I don’t think I can “do” self acceptance. OMG. I’m on another doom loop. This could be harder than setting New Year’s Resolutions. [Read more…]

Running. Born Blue to Run.

blue-art-sky

I’m less than mile in, on a planned five-miler. It’s not good. The worm flips the stomach over, and over, and over. Nausea. This will pass, don’t stop, run through it.

It doesn’t pass.

Bile backs up the throat, coats the molars and scurries forward. The gag reflex is triggered. I hunch over, hands clutch the knee caps. OMG. 

I stand upright, soldier-like, arms and hands hang. Eyes shut, tears slide down both cheeks, I make no effort to clear. I need this moment. Just a moment to re-grip. 

I grab the water bottle, gargle, and spew. Most clears, too much does not. A thick stream runs down the zipper line of the coat. Puking, on yourself, nice. 

I re-start. The north wind gusts and makes contact, tear ducts gush water, the track in front is a blur. Whoa. Easy does it. [Read more…]

Running. With Pigeon.

pigeon

Hundreds of pieces of lint bangin’ around upstairs, but none stretch into a fluffy middle or knit to a checkered flag at the end. Flash. Flash. Flash. Blah.  Nothing there. Nobody home. Nobody. Nothing.

When you bathe yourself in Mary Oliver poetry, her essays, her shorts – and when you waterboard your Blog followers with her Art, should there be any wonder of the source of the crippling doubt, the wellspring of inadequacy? Come on DK.

So here we go. In-n-out of her ethereal breezes to my…

Pigeon.

It’s daybreak, yesterday.  We’re on the way to Mianus River park for a trail run.  The gauge reads 27° F, and wind chill is knocking that down. We’re on a cross-street in Stamford, five miles out.  There’s no traffic. I stand at a red light. Anya‘s in the trunk, peeking between the head rests; outside, water vapor from the exhaust pipes spills into the cold and flurries of white smoke cloud the rear window.

My attention is pulled right. There he was.  A Pigeon. He’s sitting on a ledge on a wall of the building lining the street, at my eye level.  He’s looking at me, me at him. [Read more…]

Running. And Free Fallin’.

in-the-snow-ix

Let’s take inventory.

Four Falls.
The heals of both hands scraped raw, instruments used to break each fall.
A right knee bruise. Severity? Somewhere on a continuum between Deep and below the surface. We’ll know for sure in the morning.

We are a self-correcting, self-learning being, right? Otherwise we wouldn’t be standing, breathing, and reading this, Right?

Adam, in his hunt for food for Eve and the kids, after falling face-first the first time, said, hmmmm, that didn’t feel good. That didn’t work out. Let’s not do that again.

24° F. It’s the first snow of the season and I’m prepping.

Underwear. Thermal Underwear. Thermal Socks. Thermal undershirt. Wicking overshirt. Heavy Down coat. Tuke. Gloves. Fanny Pack with bottle of water, smartphone and headphones.

I catch a glimpse of this package in the mirror before stepping into the garage. Holy Sh*t. Sasquatch.

I pull on Ugg Boots, two pound leg weights strapped on each foot. Who runs in snow in Ugg Boots? 

First fall.
A flat surface, I’m caught by surprise. An ice patch. The legs fly out. I fall heavily on left side, air gushes out of the belly, which is still jiggling. I roll on my back.  Where’s my smartphone? Right pocket please. Right.

Second fall.
A steep incline. Uggs are crampon-less. Right leg slides out. Left leg follows, and a tumble down a short embankment.  I’m covered in a mixture of snow, leaves and dirt. Camouflage. Military drills. No, more like Carl Spackler the greenskeeper on Caddyshack: “They’re like the Viet-Cong…Varmint-Cong. So you have to fall back on superior firepower and superior intelligence. And that’s all she wrote.” [Read more…]

Breathe, babe, breathe

eric-rose-sleeping

I knelt beside him. “Breathe, babe, breathe,” I said to him, little puffs accompanying each word…After running a bunch of tests they decided that John had…No heart attack, as they had first surmised.  All of that was pretty memorable. But what I remember the most vividly is this: later that day, I was driving the rental car down some minor highway, the snow surrounding us still, a house here and there, both John and Maya asleep, and I felt a soaring sense of euphoria. Not a hallucinogenic euphoria. It was an earthly euphoria, one of the most grounded feelings, in fact, that I can ever remember having.

This is my person. This is my baby. They are both safe, sleeping. This is the snow. These are my strong hands on the steering wheel. This is my life. This is all there is. And it is so fragile. And beyond enough.

It is these moments that we fear, these moments that are inevitable, that put us in touch with a proportionate sense of gratitude for just how lucky we are to live on this earth for even one day.

I’m not claiming that’s any consolation for the suffering — particularly for those who don’t get the comparatively gentle perspective borne of close calls, but the brutal realization of disease and death. I’m just acutely aware of how much more accurately we weigh our own small lives when we touch into just how vast and inevitable loss really is. Time slows down. Our senses are empowered. The sound of a peacefully sleeping person that you love becomes what it really is, the most sacred sound in the entire universe.

~ Courtney E. Martin, from The Shocking Clarity of Almost Losing it All (On Being, Dec 16, 2016)


Photo: Eric Rose

Walking Cross-Town. Untied. Unhinged.

shoes-socks-mens

Eyes are closed. Water spills over shoulders. Steam spills over the top of the shower curtain. If there is a God, this is his Temple. One of life’s simplest and most magnificent pleasures.

I turn up the heat, and just stand, arms down, shoulders curled and leaning forward – I breathe.  Snippets of Mary Oliver leak in…”But mostly I just stand…in the middle of the world, breathing in and out. Life so far doesn’t have any other name but breath and light, wind and rain.”

Release.

I step out. Towel dry.  One eye is on the clock. Can’t miss the 6:16 to get to an 8 am meeting in Midtown.

I pull on knee length socks.  It was less than 30 seconds, 30 years ago, but his words still bite.  The wound still fresh, the cuts over something so small yet replayed thousands of times since and triggered each morning when I slide on my socks. “Over-the-calf socks are crude,” he said. “One shouldn’t see the hair on your legs. And polish your shoes.” Crude.

I button shirt. Slide on pants. Loop belt. Tie tie.

I grab shoes, set them down and lean over.

I pull on both ends of the laces on the left shoe.

SnapDamn! [Read more…]

Walking. Cross-Costco.

cream-puffs

We’re on a Costco run.

I’m generally not invited on Costco runs due to some Priors, some unfortunate displays of lack of self-control, some poor judgment, followed by regrets: “It won’t happen again.”

But rations were way down, there was some heavy mule work required, and so, here I am, with my adult chaperone.

The front of the store is stacked from floor to ceiling with 65″ HDTVs, deeply discounted laptops and seasonal deals on cell phones. Gadget man’s entire body is trembling, but is pulled forward with a scolding: “You don’t need any more. Come on!”

It’s 10:30 am and I’m working here on an empty stomach. The nose catches a whiff of chocolate and separately, of cheese. Sampling Stations! 

“I’ll catch up with you later.” I can feel the stink eye on my back, but first things first. I turn and head across the store, the stimulated nostrils acting as the GPS. [Read more…]

Walking Cross-Town. With a Tin Cup.

face-of-hand-abstract

The moment, seconds really, should have degraded into an inkblot, edges fraying, burrowing to lose itself among the billions of other moments, stored for retrieval at a later date when a similar moment showed up. Aha, I remember that.

But No.

This one Rises, floats on Top, bobbing up and down, making sure it isn’t lost. Remember this, it seems to say. Don’t forget this, it needs to say.

I’m walking Cross-Town on 47th. It’s dark. It’s early, 6:23 am. And, it’s Cold – sub 35° F, with winds gusting. Feels like 26° F. Biting.

I’m wearing a trench coat, knee length, its heavy lining leaning in on my shoulders. It’s zipped to the throat.

The fur lined leather gloves keep the hands and fingers toasty. I grip my case with one, and swing the other, the motion pulling me forward, the pace quick, the blood and bones warming from the movement.

And there he was.

Alone. [Read more…]

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