Sunday, March 08, 2009

Merry ways

This was the weekend that opened up the springtime, the possibility that this long bleak winter might someday come to an end. On Saturday morning L had to go to work early in the Bronx, so I ventured forth to the Union Square Farmers' Market on my own, armed with a few canvas bags and a very detailed list. The walk up was very pleasant, strolling in just a fleece, feeling the sun on my face and listening to the new Ryan Leslie album on my ipod. A strung-out looking man on the corner of 5th and 11th was trying to flag me down, and at first I was determined to avoid him, but then I decided to give it a go (it was daylight after all, and I can throw a punch or two (theoretically)). Turns out he was a foreign tourist, eastern European, and he needed directions to Ground Zero. Proud of myself for being so helpful and non-judgmental, I set him off towards his destination and continued along my merry way.

The crowds at the farmers market had not yet descended when I arrived around eleven. I meandered through the stalls, gathering up carrots, eggs, two brown paper bags of mushrooms, and some yogurt and milk. Vendors were selling cherry blossom branches with the buds just starting to grow, and there were many more apples than I expected to see. I stopped at Trader Joe's for wine and made my way home, talking to my mom as I lugged everything back.

When L finally came home, we went up to Central Park for a nice long seven mile run. She's training for a half marathon for her birthday in late April, and being the kind of husband who enjoys spending time with his wife and has seen plenty of episodes of well-intentioned trainers hollering at the people on "The Biggest Loser" until spittle is gathering at the corners of their mouths, I decided she needed my help.

The Park was full of people jogging along the road, families meandering along with their kids, and hateful bikers zooming along like they think they're Lance Armstrong. L and I have never really run together, based on significant differentials in leg length and speed, but we thought we'd give it a try. I tried to run a little slower than usual, a nice steady jog so I could follow her lead. I haven't run more than five miles in a really long time, and was anxious about how this would go.

Well, it was fantastic. Although we were going a little faster than L was accustomed to, it was really wonderful to run through this beautiful park with her by my side. The place was vibrant, full of life, like the whole city turned out to celebrate the first spring weekend. Sacramental. Running at a nice easy pace, anticipating the familiar hills and sights along the path, I thought a lot about all time I have spent running that loop. So many sense memories in the pavement, remembering songs I used to listen to or specific instances where I found that perfect alchemy of physical exertion and natural beauty and a moment of clear-mindedness. It's happened before, and it happened there.

After we finished our 7.4 miles I was shocked to find that I felt like I could continue. I was proud of my wife and really happy that we spent that last hour or so running alongside each other, buddies on the road, like everywhere else.

The weekend continued along a similar simple, restorative trajectory. We ordered in both nights, watched television, read a lot. The burdens and stress of work, which weighed heavily on my shoulders this week, melted with each moment in the sunshine, each glance to my left to see my wife beside me.

Today I enjoyed a couple afternoon drinks with Ashesh at Wogie's, and as I told him about some of the work stuff that had caused me so much worry this week, I thought about everything for a moment, and said, "I have a very rich life." And on weekends like this it feels like everything opens up.

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