Places to Run

I ran for the first time today on Florida ground. It was wonderful. I could feel each footfall on the sandy pavement. I took a breath and it was the fresh mid- seventies breeze covered by only a light humidity. The sky was light blue with feather-thin clouds, surreal.

On the path I ran, there were two sidewalks on opposite ends of the street, separated by two lanes of traffic on each side. It wasn’t busy, a few shiny cars here and there. The path was along the more recent developments, the ritzy condos and retirement homes for avid golfers and those who appreciate a nice gated pool and a lovely sunset over the putting green. On the left side of the street was the course. It stretched about a mile with green grass cut so short it was turf-like and little pools of pond water that sparkled under the almost-sunset.

Along the pathway and in the median of the street, the median that divided the four lanes of traffic, were palm trees. As I ran, I admired those palm trees. They seemed to be of about the same height, their branches outstretched and dancing lightly in the breeze, bark stiff and proud. It seemed that the line of trees extended endlessly. From what I could see in front of me, they stretched two miles down to the complex entrance, then continued around the curve and down the main street. Through the trees I could see little pieces of sunlight like shards of color in a stained glass window. I loved how the sun seemed to flit between the spaces of leaves, twinkling in the corners of my eyes, distracting me.

At the end of the road were carved horses in various shades of copper and metallic brown. They were depicted mid-leap and mid-run, their leg muscles bulging and rippling under the shadow of their bodies. From where I stood on the side of the street, I could almost feel their energy, though they were made of materials and not of blood and bones. I slowed to a fast walk as I passed them, paused to catch my breath before turning back the way I came.

The palm trees were outstretched in front of me again, each leaf reaching for the sky, for sun, for rain, for something unobtainable, perhaps. I adjusted the band around my bicep, changing to the next song on my playlist and letting my feet push me forward, my arms and torso following suit. In a few moments, my body was in sync again, and the wind was at my back, pushing me on. I could feel the pull in my chest as I reached a pace much faster than I had before. The gentle sun seemed to rest on my back, simple encouragement.

I studied the palm trees as I ran, counted the cracks in the sidewalk, and tried to remember the words to songs I hadn’t heard in a while. In a few minutes I slowed to a walk, bringing the air back fully into my lungs and letting my legs cool under the my steady pace.

The palm trees stretched beyond me, to the things I had yet to understand, to the words I had yet to form on my lips. As I turned to home, my Florida temporary home, I said a silent goodbye to those palm trees. I would see them again soon. There were many more places to run.

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