I love running my city so much that most times I don’t mind navigating pedestrians on the sidewalks, autos on the roads, and traffic lights at the intersections. But other times I just want a little peace and quiet, to run without having to dodge an obstacle, switch up my pace for safety, or even have to listen to the background hum and honk of New York City. Those are the times I go where I know I won’t be bothered by a single living soul: the cemetery.
Such was the case Saturday morning. My mind was tumbling in anticipation of my packed weekend itinerary, and in reaction of the workweek I’d just survived. I needed pastoral beauty and innocuous sedation. Of course, the danger of running in a setting that doesn’t demand my attention is that my thoughts will take over; these days, I’m not so eager to be left alone with my thoughts. But I was desperate to be by myself, and not just unaccompanied–I wanted to be outside in the sunshine somewhere no one would see me. What better place than the cemetery, where, if there is another living person, she wants to be alone with her grief just as much as I want to be alone with mine.
The only creature with whom I crossed paths was a skinny, suspicious squirrel. My thoughts stilled themselves and I was left with the purity of exertion: breathing, beating, stepping. I let the sun warm my skin, and the breeze cool it. I cared not that my miles were tipping the scales with plump 10+ minutes. Sunnyside is a blended community: gentrified and newly immigrated, singles and families, and living and dead. I was happy to be living, but happier that I didn’t have to think about it. 4.67 miles run in 48:48. Average pace 10:27; fastest mile 10:12; slowest mile 10:29.