Last weekend, I ran my first 10k, its route carrying me from the parking lot of my alma mater’s stadium to the far span of a new highway bridge and back. And there’s an irony here, in that I ran across a bridge before it officially opened, and yet, I’ll rarely use it now that it’s in service.
The bridge floats between my beloved city and its much-disdained suburbs, touching the far shore in one of the wealthiest parts of the entire region. (What’s more, it charges a toll for the privilege of crossing.) I didn’t set foot there on my run; the route turned back before then. And it’s just as well, because, as M83 sang to me, a few minutes into the race, the city is my church.
Anything else is a blasphemy.
We crossed the water yesterday, taking a ferry to an island to visit a friend. By the time we decided upon this plan, executed it, and arrived at our destination, our stomaches were rumbling with dinner desires, and we asked the friend what our options in town were.
There were four.
At her suggestion, we drove a couple towns over—only 15 minutes, granted—to a shack of a restaurant, one of a tiny stretch of businesses on a street named Main. And, once dinner was done, it was already time to turn around and head back.
As we drove off the ferry, we talked about how we didn’t know why we’d left. How we liked the idea of leaving the city, but every time we did, we immediately wanted to return. While the suburban streets carried us towards the place we called home, we talked about how the stretches of strip malls and fast food restaurants reminded us of the places we’d grown up, the places we’d long ago left behind.
The funny thing about the town I lived in longest as a child is that its Wikipedia page reads as near-propaganda, its History section taken verbatim from the town’s website.
Yesterday, we were talking about how a mile seemed so much further when we were kids, and while we attributed that to our smaller sizes, I wondered how much of it was due to the blandness of that town, how the sprawling suburban tracts all blended together. It was only a mile to the grocery store back then, but we always drove. Always.
Tonight, I needed a bag’s worth of things, so I walked the mile-and-a-half to the downtown Target, grabbed what I needed, and walked back home, a podcast keeping me company along the way. My Fitbit counted the steps, but my legs barely felt the distance.
I’ve gone much farther recently. And, really, tonight, I never left home.