In between truly frantic bouts of walking and running, visits to friends and appointments, I calculate that I covered about twenty-five miles of Brooklyn dirt-and-asphalt between Friday and Sunday evening, just barely keeping myself ahead of anxiety, insomnia, and numerous other purposeless maladies. I think that perhaps I was a shepherd in a former life, or a wandering penitent. A pilgrim of some sort. Or maybe a trades-person on the Silk Road hawking counterfeit perfumes.
Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve never had a job that required me to walk any distance, but I have had a remarkable number of early rising jobs. In my younger days, to supplement my job at a museum, I would wake at 5:30am to bike blearily the five miles to a coffee-shop in downtown Minneapolis. Then, I would read the paper, bake scones, and drink endless amounts of coffee while waiting for my first beleaguered customers to arrive. In high school, I opened a coffee-shop in a mall where I would cheerily salute the mall-walkers who would descend upon the place before the selling began. One summer job at the embassy required me at 6am to get into a van filled with my directionless peers and be transported to the drab office where I would spend the next eight hours shredding. Finally, there was the 5:30am shift that I was forced to work as a bus-driver during college, which wasn’t so bad at all, considering.
Anyway, so today, I decided to run to Bay Ridge to investigate Owl’s Head Park on the edge of the Brooklyn peninsula. It turned out that this run was intensely tailored for my tastes: I ran up 5th Avenue for 47 blocks, passing Green-wood Cemetery, Sunset Park, the basilica, and all manner of slightly unpleasant industrial landscapes. Once I arrived, I found the park to be refreshingly free from the crazed athletes of Prospect Park: a forlorn birdwatcher informed me that nothing was to be seen in the trees, and some heavily-clothed man barked at me to “don’t stop — keep up the program!” as I sat on a bench watching the barges float against the backdrop of Staten Island.
On my way back home, I found a pile of free books on the sidewalk and picked up “Vanity Fair,” the journals of Athol Fugard, and some meditations on the Chesapeake Bay.