Running even two laps was hard when we began a month ago, but knowing Rachel was at the track made it easier to get out of bed. After a breakup, regular mornings with her did wonders for my overall sense that things would be OK. The more we met, the easier movement became, the better other things seemed. Progress here made progress elsewhere feel possible.
That Saturday we plopped ourselves on the grass to stretch before jogging. It was November, not freezing but cold enough that you'd want some pants and a long sleeve shirt. I looked up and saw a woman walking toward us. A pair of shorts revealed thin, flushed legs and prominent knees. Her torso swam a little in a navy t-shirt. Strands of gray poked through big curls that fell on her shoulders.
"Would you mind taking a picture of me?" she asked. Her face was middle-aged with scant creases and brimmed with delight. "This is the first time I've gone running!" She posed in the center lane, arms extended at her sides. "The start of something new," they were reminding her future self.
We set off, but Rachel likes variety so we veered west toward the river. Curious, I craned my neck backward and saw the woman had broken into a bouncy jog. As we settled into our pace the chilled air pushed against our faces and we talked when things occurred to us. Soon we were back at the track.
Rounding the bend during our final sprint I noticed the woman. The same form that carried so much hopeful energy now slumped slightly as it moved forward and walked.