One of the things I like, are storms. Big ones. Ones I often decide to run in. I only dated one person that shared that with me. Most everyone else was alarmed I wanted to go out into a storm – running, no less.
It was 2000 and I was in Angie’s apartment. This was the apartment she lived when I first met her, when I fell in love with her. There was a fireplace in the middle of the room separating the bedroom from dining room/kitchen. If you were in one you could look through it to the other. As far as I know, she never burned a fire in it, only these candles (that, to this day I cannot find). She lived very sparsely only spending money on good coffee, candles, pastries and shampoo. I loved both the smell of her and the apartment which had a tinge of eucalyptus and lavender. A Wall Street Journal always occupied the table, her closet was filled with running shoes and race t-shirts. Every color, every race imaginable, she had it. She was a true runner while just dabbled in it. I never took it seriously unless there was a storm. That’s when it got serious.
I pulled the curtain aside looking through the dirty glass. I could see clouds gathering and darkening. The leaves on the trees were rustling, the wind picking up. I knew a storm was coming – both inside and outside.
Dropping the curtain, “Hey, it’s getting close.”
She was sitting at the table sipping coffee, reading the paper. She was ignoring me and I couldn’t stand it. Finally, “just give it a minute.”
‘We don’t have a minute. All we have is right now’, I thought. I was sitting on her bed which was a mattress on the floor peering at her through the fireplace. This way I could study her without her noticing. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was the first brunette, really dark brunette, that I’d dated. Dark, curly hair with equally dark eyes and olive skin, she was a beauty. In that moment I knew I loved her more than she loved me and that it was going to end between us soon. I needed to get it over with, to leave before she left me. My rational thoughts told me this but my emotional being held on. Tightly. I had just lost my mother and couldn’t lose someone else I loved – at least not this soon. I felt my eyes tear up. I needed to get out of there or else all would be lost even earlier than anticipated.
I took a deep breath and started tying my running shoes. Not looking up and showing my face I said with as much lightness I could muster, “Oh, come on, Angie. The Wall Street can wait. We’re going to miss it.” Regaining my composure I threw one of her shoes at her playfully.
“Hey, don’t touch that.”
“Either make me or put the damn thing on and let’s go.”
She smiled starting to put one shoe on then the other after tossing it to her.
“You are taking FOREVER.” I was already at the door.
“I’m right behind you” she messed my hair walking out in front of me.
The leaves of the trees were horizontal with the wind by that time. Rain was starting with an insistent drizzle that I knew would be full out torrential soon. I took off in the direction of the park. She always let me lead – probably because she hoped a tree would fall on me so she wouldn’t have to break up with me. We were heading into the wind, better to start that way and have a tailwind at the end. I knew just where to go and headed that way. It was to a place where it all began -under a bridge leading into the park.
It was night when she had talked me into that first run, our first of many things. I didn’t want to go. We had just finished dinner on a date we both shouldn’t have been on. At the time I was seeing someone else but felt the relationship was dying. She didn’t make me feel like this, nowhere near this. ‘I’m going to end it as soon as this night is over.’ I thought.
“Let’s go for a run.”
“What? Now? We just had pasta and martinis.”
“Sure. Why not?”
For some stupid reason I don’t remember, I had my running shoes in the car. Probably because the woman I was dating was training for a marathon and our dates consisted of 10 milers. We changed in our vehicles and took off across the park. The cadence of our pace kept beat with my heart. ‘Where are we going?’ I thought.
“Hey, where are we going?”
The rain was coming down now and we were both running at a 7-minute mile pace. We had wound through the historic neighborhood she lived that wrapped around to the park. She thought I was turning back to loop back but I didn’t, instead I turned towards the bridge.
“You know where we’re going.”
I felt her pace drop back to a jog. We had been going along at a pretty good clip, each trying to outrun the other. Both of our t-shirts were soaked from exertion in heat of the Georgia night. She stopped and pointed to the bridge.
“Race you to it. Winner get’s one wish.”
“You’re on.” I said, as I took off.
Our feet pounded the pavement, legs pumping. Despite being a great sprinter at the time she beat me. Her hand touched the concrete base of the bridge moments before mine. We both were keeled over, breathing hard.
Lightning flashed and I knew it was going to be close. I braced myself for the hit. We had to get there, we had to. The ground shook and we heard a crack then the slide of tree coming down behind us. I was full out running with her on my heels, neither being able to talk from breathing so hard.
“So, winner. What’s your wish?” I said when I could find my voice.
“Oh, I can’t tell you.”
“It’s sort of like blowing out birthday candles. You can never tell what the wish was or else it won’t come true.”
“Well, there’s no candles out here. What now?”
“You close your eyes while I make a wish.”
“Why me? Aren’t you supposed to close your eyes?”
“Just do it.”
“Ok, ok.” I said closing my eyes.
I suddenly stopped.
“Why are you stopping?”
“Race you to the bridge.” Rain dripped off her face as she gave me a look of disbelief.
“Are you crazy?”
“Yes.” I said, taking off for the bridge. I had to touch it first. It was the only thing that was going to save me, save us.
Eyes closed I felt her lips touch mine. I had hoped this was coming but the innocent part of me discarded the thought until now. My arms naturally went around her as the kiss deepened. I was breathless yet again. We kissed for what seemed like hours that night under the bridge.
Despite being the winner my wish didn’t come true that rainy day.
2011 I stood looking at that bridge just having taken Sadie to the dog park. Staring at the concrete support we touched, I knew I could never stop it. It had ended as abruptly as it began as I knew it would. Nothing could ever be that great and last. Nothing.
“Nothing gold can stay.” – Robert Frost, 1923
We walked across the park to a coffee shop on the other side. As we approached, she put down her paper and smiled. I sat down, tied Sadie to the table leg and gave her a bone. I looked at her across the table and wondered how I could feel all that then and nothing but light admiration now.
Where did it all go? If she only knew to this day she’s still my stormy muse.