anytime i move, or go on vacation for that matter, one of the most important baptismal acts for me is to go on a run. some of my most legendary (to me, anyway) have been these runs. i never feel quite settled in a place until i’ve conquered its sidewalks in my running shoes, explored its twists and turns, seen its houses first hand.
today, after a sluggish afternoon, i decided it was time. strapped on the shoes, loaded pandora on my phone and started north, toward a park i knew was nearby.
then it happened, the thing i always fear when i don’t know an area: i got lost. (i can guarantee my bf is cringing as he reads this, given his high opinion of my new neighborhood). i was doing fine for blocks, made turns in the general direction of my house, thought i was on the right track. afterall, i knew the major streets and can generally find my way around the city. i passed by Jefferson…Jefferson, i thought. that sounds familiar. Hamilton, another familiar name. sweet park. great little waterway, wonder if that’s the White River. i just kept running.
eventually, though, the streets didn’t sound familiar anymore. strangely enough, i wasn’t panicking. i found myself outside a park, in the midst of an adorable little neighborhood called Windsor Place. a woman was walking up to the library when i stopped her to ask how close i was to Rural Ave.
“oh, very close,” she said, smiling. her gray hair swept up into a loose bun, a too pink shade of gloss on her lips. “just go down that street and you’ll run into 10th, then you can find Rural.” i thanked her and went in the direction she suggested. eventually, i began to recognize the street names again, but realized quickly (and with quite a bit of chuckle) that i was over a mile from home, when i thought i might be just around the corner.
getting lost was not really the tragedy i’ve always anticipated; in fact, it was really quite refreshing and i got to see what was really there. not just burned out houses and gang graffiti, but also moms holding their babes on the front porch, a woman calling out to her man as he made his way to the bus stop. brilliant spring flowers in bloom. little girls playing “kitchen” in the backyard. a sweet woman going to the library. lots of redone homes overlooking the park. incredible greenery like i wouldn’t expect in the city. life is just as it is everywhere, despite the poverty or threat of gangs. life is flowing.
getting lost forced me to pay attention to my environment. of course i’d heard of a street named Jefferson; it’s only one of the major intersections on 10th street on the way to my house, but i’d never paid it much attention before. and then Hamilton is next. i won’t forget those easily.
getting lost reminded me that i really do love this city. which is why i run this town. to rediscover, every time i put on those shoes, every inch of this place i love.
i run this town
because i love this town.