So Many Stars

We have lived in our “new” house/community for almost a year now, and I have often bragged to others about how quiet, dark and clean it is. How everyone is friendly and waves hello, how people take care of their pets, pet waste, and feed and water the birds. We walk to and from the fitness facilities, have our favorite walking/running/cycling routes established, and continue to explore and add to them. In the early mornings the Milky Way is visible as there is little ambient light, and we often see shooting stars from the corner of our eyes as we make our way around the golf course or “loop” road. I sometimes say “Hi” to Frank, John, or Eloise out loud, making up a game that this is a way to communicate with lost loved ones, and they in turn, are telling me everything is OK.

When I run my 3.2 before work a couple days a week I am pretty much alone, save for the paper delivery cars or maybe a golf cart or two headed up to the gym or pool. I am able to hear the vehicles from quite a distance as sound travels long distance here when it happens because of the surrounding quiet.

Normally I gauge my running route where there isn’t a hint of traffic or a person walking their dog. I bounce back and forth across the street just by “feel” or by headlights headed towards or in back of me. Normally I run facing traffic and jump up on the sidewalk if there happens to be any cars. I may see two or three on any given morning.

It’s been over a month, and I still mull about what exactly happened that morning in my head, as it could have been then end. Of a couple of us.

I was running with traffic, looking at the fading stars, noticing a tinge of pink/blue on the east horizon was happening earlier and earlier with the summer approaching. I checked my watch and it was a little after 5 a.m. I heard the truck before I saw it, and it seemed to be picking up speed as it approached. I got out of the bike lane and jumped up onto the dirt alongside the road. Luckily I didn’t cross over to the other side and jump up on the sidewalk, because that’s exactly what the Dodge Ram ended up doing. It went left, completely crossed the road, jumped the curb, took out about 12 feet of railing and came to a stop at the edge of a wash with a large boulder wedged under it’s front end. I stopped, hoping that someone wasn’t hurt badly, and finally breathed a sigh of relief when the guy opened the driver’s door. He was bleeding from his hand a little and couldn’t find his cell phone. He seemed really confused and I was afraid he had hit his head. A neighbor had heard the commotion, and came out to talk to the driver who apparently fell asleep at the wheel. I personally believe he may have had a slight stroke or heart attack. I explained to the gentleman that helped call paramedics that I still had to run home and get ready for work. Shaken, I cried a bit telling my husband the events of the morning. The truck had crossed right where I normally run. Facing traffic. On the sidewalk. Thankfully there were two less shooting stars the next morning.

Just Jump!

“Just jump!” I yelled at my sister from below. She quickly became a silhouette as the sun set behind her as she stood on the high dive. “It’s really fun!”, I further encouraged. “Hurry, it’s getting dark!”

“I will give you 50 cents if you do”, my dad said from below as he threw chlorine blocks into the city pool. He was done for the day and I was too. Being city manager at the pool in the summers to supplement his teaching income was something that I surely never paid attention to at age nine. We got to swim for free each summer, and it was extra money for our family of six. He also coached football and basketball. I look back at all that now and wonder where he had the energy.

“Why does she get 50 cents dad?” fell on deaf ears. I had just jumped. For nothing. For fun. All I could think about was how many caramel creams, candied lipsticks and packs of Smarties that much money could buy at the concession stand the next day. My sister slowly climbed down the ladder in the dark.

I get it now. I understand why he didn’t need to bribe me or pay me for jumping.

He knew I had it in me all along to jump for other reasons.

Not rewarding me for something that I so enjoyed, would have made it not special anymore, and I probably would have quit challenging myself then and there.

It’s why I can still jump into the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay and swim to the city. It’s why I can scream down a hill on my road bike, or ride over large rocks on my mountain bike. It’s why I climbed to the top of trees as a kid and still climb to the top of mountains at age 61. It’s why I can go into a weight room and do my thing and not worry about what others are thinking about me. It’s why I was able to have a career and be able to support my daughter and put her through college. It’s why I can get up in front of a room full of my peers and give a presentation, or strap a guitar on my back and sing out of key, with a room full of preschoolers. It’s why I still toe the line at various kinds of race distances, never thinking about how I can’t do it, but how great it will be. It’s why I get up every morning at four a.m. and go out the door with wonder to encounter what, a coyote today? A javelina? A rattler? A few lizards? A full moon? A shooting star? An ornery child or parent at work? A broken garage door or irrigation system?

Yeah. Just jump!