I harbor such fondness for my runs home from work that I’m practically nostalgic–and they aren’t yet a thing of the past! It’s strange, this sentimentality. It’s as if each homeward bound workout is a reincarnation. By that I mean, it is at once newborn, its own fresh and unique experience, and also the wizened community storyteller, rich with memories of prior passings which are recalled even as a new memory is being created.
Hai visto che piove? Senti come vieni giù
tu che dicevi che non pioveva più
che ormai non ti saresti mai più innamorata
e adesso guardati sei tutta bagnata
All day today I looked forward to my solitary run home. It teased me from the 6-7 PM slot in my Outlook calendar: RUN HOME 5. My future was clear. I would depart from the corner of Madison Avenue and East 53rd Street, in my black running tights, my new green Brooks windbreaker, Little G on my wrist and my tan canvas ballcap on my head to keep the rain out of my eyes. There would be the impression of daylight through the overcast sky and indecisive raindrops. I would run east, and north, as the streetlights dictated, wending my way through the path of least resistance to First Avenue and East 60th Street. I would ease my way up the 59th Street Bridge, making the steep ascent slowly. (This would be, after all, a recovery run.)
Rinascerà sta già nascendo ora
senti che piove e il grano si migliora
e tu diventi grande e ti fai forte
e quelle foglie che ti sembravan morte
ripopolano i rami un’altra volta
questa é la primavera sulla porta
Slowly, slowly up and across the bridge. There’s no rush; Husband’s making dinner, Matilda’s dozing on the couch. For now, the only place I need to be is here, on my bridge, peering over the left side into the Queensbridge Projects. Wondering once again how such a notorious neighborhood could look so pleasant from up here. Along its southern edge there is a broad path symmetrically hemmed with elm trees. In the winter those trees sparkle with ice and snow and in the summer they stand lushly green; is it possible drug dealers and other dangerous types could be soothed into good behavior by this artful landscaping? Today the trees are just bundles of brown branches, patiently waiting to be re-leafed. Finally, the long descent begins, and I fleetingly recall, like I do every time I enjoy this downhill, about my triumphant ascent of the same hill on November 2nd, as one of 40,000 stampeding marathoners.
Tu che credevi che ormai le tue piantine
si eran seccate e non sarebbero cresiute più
Dodging puddles through Queens Plaza, the N and 7 trains rumbling overhead, the rain has claimed me yet I don’t feel wet. It runs off the bill of my cap in rivulets if I turn my head, yet I persist in believing that I am drier running than standing still. My left hamstring hurts a lot, as if I’ve been punched where my thigh meets my ass cheek. I console myself: Tomorrow is a rest day. Straight home is not the required 5 miles, it is just 3.5. So I run past the turn that would take me to Husband, warm penne all’arrabiata, and a hot shower. I keep trotting up Skillman Avenue in the bike lane, all the way to 58th Street. Skirting the Sunnyside/Woodside border (I must hum “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side”–Poi Dog Pondering), I make a U-turn onto Roosevelt Avenue, once again running beneath the 7 elevated line towards home. Quick! bear left onto 43rd Avenue and it’s all downhill from here, past the martial arts storefront, past a hair salon, a manicure parlor, a bodega, Rite-Aid, a real estate office with glowing windows, a few laundromats, the worst Chinese restaurant ever, my pizza parlor, my bodega, my dry cleaners, my old apartment building until finally here I am, at 41st Street—home. Five comfortable miles in 51:02.
Lyrics are excerpted from the song “Piove” (1994) by Jovanotti, an Italian pop star. Piove means rain. Here is the translation of the above, with less poetics than in the original Italian (sorry).
Did you see it’s raining? Hear the way it comes down
You said it wouldn’t rain anymore
That by now you wouldn’t fall in love ever again
And now look at you, you’re all wet….
It will be reborn, it’s already being born
Feel how it rains and the seedling improves
You become big and you get strong
And the leaves that seemed dead to you
Cover the branches once again
This is Spring at your door….
You who believed that by now your plants
had dried up and wouldn’t grow anymore…
Songs I ran to (actually): “La Femme d’Argent” by AIR, “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green, “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” by Allison Krauss, “Melissa” by The Allman Brothers, “Nighttime” by Ben Lee, “Plumb” by Brokedown Palace, “The Sad Cafe” by The Eagles, “Next Year” by Foo Fighters, “Don’t Wait Too Long” by Madeleine Peyroux, “The Good Soldier” by Nine Inch Nails, “One Flight Down” by Norah Jones, “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” by Frank Sinatra, “Cadillac” by The Push Stars