I cannot stress enough the importance of looking both ways.
I was having one of those ephiphanal runs this evening. The sun was dropping behind the Newport Back Bay as, of all motivational music, Black Eyed Peas’ “Where is the Love?” came rolling through my earbuds. My mind was lazily monitoring my breathing, thinking about how the world is a frightening/amazing place, reminding myself the joy that comes with creating a playlist versus lazily letting the pod shuffle my music for me. I kept passing other runners, noticing the way their ponytails flopped like horsetails, or how they just looked determined as their feet padded down the pavement. “I got this,” they seemed to exude. “This is it.”
I wanted to run forever.
I wanted to daydream about the careers I would like to have (opening my own fitness meet up, complete with shoe store and coffee shop and bulletin boards for people looking for running buddies), brainstorm for the graphic novel I hope to pen, contemplate what makes people work together, what makes someone tick. I was merrily reliving my day in San Diego with my running buddy Kristin, where we had not run but instead walked on the beach despite her fear of the ocean (or as she claims, the fact that the ocean hates her), thinking about how her take on the world makes me want to alter my own vision of how I live. The air had small patches of barbeque wafting through, bicyclists and dog-walking enthusiasts were rampant. It was a good day to be outside.
On my way home, I was jogging across a crosswalk, concentrating partially on the song ringing in my ears (Bowling for Soup’s cover of “Lovefool”) and remaining mindful of the fact that I was indeed crossing a busy street, and ZING — I leapt out of the way of an oncoming car that was running the redlight, and nearly knocked my legs out in the process.
As a recreational athlete, I cherish my legs. I cherish the function of my body, the way I move, the motion that has been given to me. I cherish my breath. My reaction to injury is the apex of negative. The fact that someone’s carelessness had almost taken me away from myself had me livid.
It was one of those moments where the reality of what almost took place barely registered at first. I was relieved to be safe, and my first reaction was to simply let sleeping dogs lie. But then, adrenaline took an alarming hold of my mind, because the car slowed down as it passed the crosswalk, and I started yelling, using words my mother would definitely deem as “charming.” The passengers in the car next to me, stopped at the red light, were laughing as the offending car drove on, the driver shrugging and I was making use of a finger I rarely toss up on its own.
And here is where I have to apologize to the policemen of Orange County, who I felt had let me down after I fell last week. Because now, I’m ready to send each and every one of them a thank you note for hanging out and patrolling the streets. A moment after I was safely on the sidewalk, my longest finger barely back at my side, did swirling red and blue lights fly by me, and the car was pulled over. I yanked the earbuds out of my ears as I ran by, still reeling from the immediateness of it all, and had nothing to say but “Thank you.”
Twenty points to Orange County’s finest.
So do me a favor, runners and bikers and walkers and people out there: Remember those lessons from early childhood. Remembering being tweaked when your foot slid off the curb accidentally, and remember your authoritative figure’s voice every time you need to step foot onto a paved surface shared with motorized vehicles.
Always look both ways, and look again, when you are crossing the street.