I walk to stop the spread of Covid-19. The way my pear has spread ten pounds during quarantine when I rediscovered baking again. Life lesson: comfort food makes for painful pants.
So I was lapping at A.C. Steere Park; an elementary walking track very similar to Herod in Houston where I am from. I caught in my periphery a young, fit guy running. Dreds swishing back and forth as he ran. I had to speak.
“Hey. You wanna tone it down a little? You’re making me look really bad here, buddy. Just slow it on down. You’re way too fast!” I heard him laugh and then he said, “You good!”
Then came the awkward part: the second lap. I’ve found that if you are EXTRA engaging with people that when they come around again you have to decide to either pick up the conversation where you left off or drop it altogether. The second lap’s a good 2025 in my mind when I launch out with the inaugural encounter; not even a thought that I’ll have to construct another witticism. Thankfully he not only did the fast running but the heavy-lifting conversationally this lap around.
“Come wit me,” he said.
“With YOU?” I laughed, verified that his CPR certification was up to date and sprung into action. I WENT. He slowed way down, I sped up and we ran. Together. He said that he came to clear his mind, that he was a therapist and with everything going on, running helped. We briefly commiserated about the challenges facing our county with the Corona Virus racial discord. We got deep for what I wanna say was a solid 30 yards. Not to brag.
I had to peel off, I had spent my bandwidth and was fading. I got his name, Chester, and gave him mine.
What possessed a totally cool, young athlete to ask a mature white woman to go anywhere with him I do not know. But I do know it made me so happy to be included. Happy to be seen as one who could even BEGIN to run anymore. Happy to be worthy of this gentleman’s company, if even for the briefest jog around the a tenth of the park.
Chester is a good guy. I am thrilled that I met him and grateful for the invitation just to go with him. It makes me eager to take a stranger into my hula hoop of personal space and dignify them the way I was granted dignity. Maybe the answer to much of what ails us is just this simple invitation: come with me.