Every morning when I thread my fingers through your laces, I feel my heart beat heavily against my chest in anticipation. I prefer a double knot and I have to jump up twice to make sure you’re tight but not constricting. I think about where we’re going to go as I reach toward you in a standing stretch. Out the door, down the steps of my front porch, out to the corner of Shenandoah and Magnolia and you cushion the muscles of my feet and legs as they churn and warm. And then, who knows?
Yesterday we headed south through Tower Grove Park, through the Morgan Ford business district and across the train tracks as a soft rain began to fall. I had the vaguest slip of memory from childhood, watching a ribbon of asphalt curve up Carondelet Park from the window of a passing car. I wanted to see Horseshoe Lake although I didn’t remember that’s what it was called, barely more than a puddle where once, my brother and I fed ducks with a loaf of moldy bread. I passed Chippewa and the city soured a little, rundown clapboard houses and expressionless faces regarding me from behind cigarette smoke. The windmill on Delor was static against a murky sky. It rained harder. My iPod stopped working, or I bumped the off button accidentally–I don’t know. I continued in silence, lungs pumping and sirens all around and somewhere over the Mississippi there was a halfhearted thunderclap.
By the time we reached Holly Hills the city turned on itself again, all tree-lined boulevards and sidewalks without ruts. Carondelet Park straddles the divide of poor and not-so-poor, but this city’s small enough that every other park does the same. Soaking now, soles swishing softly against the paved trail winding up through and around the park. No one else around by this time–I saw the looks from people in cars or peering out of living room windows–”Who would be out in this?” But I don’t mind it. My clothes wet all the way through, my legs pulling me up and up and up these hills–sometimes I catch myself smiling through long gulps of air and passersby think I’m smiling at them, and wave back. What I’m really happy about, though, has nothing to do with anybody else. It has everything to do with my feet kissing the ground beneath me, outside air thick around me, and my muscles propelling me on fast forward through the world. It’s just my Brooks and willpower that make it possible.
I turn north from the park’s eastern entrance and pound up Grand, past another rough part and nice part and then the sort of rough-nice part, which is where I stay. I can feel the beginnings of a blister on one baby toe from my wet socks and despite all the rainwater, sweat dripping into my eyes. I don’t want this to end but I know my body needs to rest, and my Brooks can only take so many miles. Tomorrow’s another day and another opportunity for experiencing the world on two legs, fast-forwarded.