Thursday, May 5, 2011

Running lessons: Remembering other times and places

Running in familiar places is comforting at this stage of my life. I like knowing what to look for just around the next bend - a favourite wooded grove, an well-designed garden, or the friendly face of a dog-walking neighbour. There are times, however, when the memories that go with running in such places are also unsettling.

My long run last weekend was a case in point. Most of my 24km route was along the trails that line the LaHave River. Though my family has been in the community for more than 30 years, I "lived away" much of that time so the trails are relatively new to me and I'm just getting acquainted with them now that my husband and I have a home nearby.

The last 4 to 5kms of my run were a different story. I turned away from the river and headed into town, runnning by landmarks that reminded me of the many times I stayed with the family between college semesters or during summer and Christmas vacations.

Here, the house in which we lived when we first moved to town - a modest bungalow a short walk from local schools and a five minute drive from Dad's business. There, the hockey arena where I attended a dance that first summer and met a handsome young lifeguard I dated on and off for years. A block away, the gymnasium where I proudly watched my brother give the valedictory address at his high school graduation. Down the street, a building that housed a disco bar where I danced late into the night with friends. Across town, a peaceful park where I went when my heart was breaking and I needed time alone to put it back together. The church I attended for years, singing in the choir and performing duets with my mother.

So many memories flooding back take my breath away making it hard to run. I want to stop and savour them - crying and laughing all over again. Where did the years go? And why can't I sense their passage in my bones, on my skin? I should feel my age, shouldn't I?

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