I remember in junior high, I was told I couldn’t run track because I had asthma.
My brothers ran and vaulted. My sisters ran and launched the shotput and discus. I just wanted to run cross country.
No go. Officially, I was declared an outsider. Ineligible. Not worthy for the team.
I ran anyway.
In the woods, on the street. On my own. Always.
In high school though, I met a friend. Like me, he was outside. Friends, yes, talents, yes, but none ever quite good enough for everybody else, it seemed.
He ran with me.
In the deep darkness before dawn, I’d hear the tap of pebbles on my window. Either out the window or through the door, I’d slip quietly away, and my friend and I would move onto the pavement of my empty street, running silently through the sleeping burb until we reached the woods that bordered the old man’s corn fields. We’d run some more, then walk, just talking and wandering until the sun came up or we had to go and get ready for school.
In summer, I’d be up first, bare feet waiting in the wet grass, feeling the solitude and expectation in the morning mist, waiting for the pad-pad of my best friend’s feet. I’d meet him on the road then, running through foggy whiteness as if nothing else existed but the two of us, shoeless and silent and full of life.
I think he was and has been my one and only running partner.
He lives far away now. My friend. My brother. Far, but always close in my heart.
Run with me again.