But there came a day, barely within Jem’s memory, when Boo Radley was heard from and was seen by several people, but not by Jem.
After I ran 5 miles over my bridge and back Saturday morning, I drove to Salem, MA with my friend from the office to spend the weekend with one of our favorite authors. The itinerary included cocktails at the author’s home followed by a group dinner at Sixty2, and attending a fundraising dinner for The House of the Seven Gables. I knew I would have fun those evenings, but I was surprised to be delighted by the marathon reading the local independent bookseller staged in Derby Square. Starting at 10 AM, they set out to read aloud To Kill a Mockingbird in its entirety, inviting the entire community to participate. I read about two pages, from the bottom of page 11 to the middle of page 13, but the real pleasure came in the listening. We sat there for an hour. I’d forgotten how funny that Scout is. Did I ever tell you I met Harper Lee?
Throughout the weekend, I was reminded that as political and difficult as my office can be, I mostly get to work with talented, good people–editors, publicists, authors and agents. The bad stuff makes the most noise and drags us all down, but on those rare occasions where I stand at the corner of Work and Play with collaborators and creators, I could nearly believe I have the best job in the world.
Sunday morning, as we walked to Derby Square for the reading, my heart was tugged by the cool autumn breeze and sunny skies. What I really wanted to do was run far. The weather was perfect, and I knew that by the time I could splinter off from the group it would be the height of the day and I’d be running through much warmer temperatures. And in fact, it wasn’t until 2:30 that my brunch had properly digested and I was free to lace on my sneakers. I plotted a course away from the touristy areas, hoping to avoid meandering pedestrians, and instead ran down Route 114 towards Marblehead. Lafayette Street is watched over by beautiful old houses that evoke Salem’s heyday as a port town. As the road curved to Marblehead , the view opened up on my left and there was a stone wall holding back the bay. To the right were a handful of lucky houses set up on a rise, lucky because they had quite a magnificent view of the water and the wharves.
Before I reached Marblehead, however, I came to a fork in the road and was unsure which prong to take. I stopped and asked an older couple that was walking towards me on the sidewalk. They confirmed I was to continue to the left, and added, “Do you have fifty cents? There’s a boy selling lemonade up ahead.” As I patted my nonexistent pockets, the man handed me two quarters and said “Help the kid out and buy yourself a drink.” It was only fifty cents, but it was such a sweet small town gesture. (First of all, what kid even sets up a lemonade stand anymore? Don’t they just bug their parents for money these days?) I was charmed by the way everyone involved came out a two-time winner. Altruism! Sadly, it’s not that often that we experience it in such easy, pure form.
I ran on, and turned off to the dirt trail that dove into the wooded areas of Marblehead. The trail felt lovely on my legs, which are slowly adjusting to 5 days a week of running (and which haven’t run further than 6+ miles in one go since early August). I’d been hoping to be able to loop the whole of Marblehead, but didn’t have time for 10 miles. Instead I eased into an out and back and just took in my surroundings. Trees! The soft crunch of the trail. A few other runners, some little ones on dirt bikes, women walking their fuzzy dogs. My breathing, my sweating, my thinking. I’ll always have this, I thought. I won’t ever be able to outrun myself; the best and the worst of me will always be there stride for stride so I may as well settle into the pace. Anxious thoughts can be offset by happy memories. My mind chewed up my thoughts, my body labored over the distance. This was work I was happy to do.
By 5PM I was ready to flounce into the garden of the Seven Gables with my group, four beauties to grace the charity auction. We laughed, we toasted our author. I looked at the water. I thought of the week to come. I thought of October, November, next year. Soon, soon. For now, have this Now.
Saturday 5.1 miles run in 52:32. Average pace 10:17; fastest mile 9:24; slowest mile 12:25 (that might be wrong).
Sunday 7 miles run in 1:08:59. Average pace 9:51; fastest mile 9:36; slowest mile 10:09.
Atticus said no, it wasn’t that sort of thing, that there were other ways of making people into ghosts.