Thursday, July 5, 2012
I wave at all the cars when I run. I used to be about a fifty percent waver and tried to save my energy for those I thought would wave back but I found out quickly there's no way to predict a wave. I also figured I was being stingy with my cordiality. But not being a Southerner, nor hailing from a rural area I wasn't sure what to do. I'd not read the manual on proper wave etiquette or how to pronounce "egg", "oil" or "water" the Southern way, or learned in school that the South had really won the war. I am and always will be what my husband reminds me I am: a foreigner. Besides, sure non-wavers were waving right and left and that messed up my system. Now I always stick up a hand.
Folks in trucks are usually good for a wave, women are typically unreliable unless they know me, teenagers aren't much better, they're usually too busy speeding, talking or texting to pay attention. I run by a very busy still segregated country church whose patrons have yet to wave. On the contrary, farmers always wave. Doesn't matter if they're in the manure trucks, the hay trucks, on tractors, sprayers, you name it... Farmers. Wave.
I sometimes run by a kid on his dirt bike who waves like crazy and tells me to say hello to my son. We have a little back and forth and I tell him I will and then forget about half the time. The sweat and pounding takes something out of a person. The up and down jostles my memories and stirs them up and spits them out. They leak through my pores with the sweat.
Heathen that I am, I was running instead of going to church Sunday morning, waving at all the churchgoers with their hands stuck to their seats and steering wheels. One lady was reading the newspaper while I was looking for God out there in the steam on the road with the cows and the dogs and the old farms, running down the middle of the road the way I like. I had started much too late and it took all I had to make it seven miles as the temperature climbed toward a hundred.
Truth is, I don't really want to see anyone on the road, less opportunity for judgement. You're either too fat, too skinny, your butt jiggles, your form is off or you're crazy for running in the dead heat of summer. Or maybe you should be in church instead of out there on the road with the bicyclists. Everyone has an opinion, especially the non-runners.
I have my own: there's more to be learned from personal challenges and either failure or triumph than putting forth no effort at all. And solitude, seven miles and no headphones is a good time for coming to terms with oneself, even if it takes repeated attempts. Come to think of it, maybe some folks don't want to see me either.