Tonight around 6:30 I changed into my running clothes in my office, and then set out for the park, nine blocks north, for a nice 6 mile run to kick off the weekend. As I was leaving I noticed a girl walking up from Rock Center towards the Park too, dressed in workout clothes. Huh, I thought. We sort of walked near each other through the wandering hordes on 6th Avenue, past the restaurants and bars with tables spilling out onto the sidewalk, past the commuters and past the glassed-in cigar store with large men smoking imperiously. At the park I took a minute to stretch while this girl took off running.
It was a perfect day to be there. The trees are just starting to lose their flowers for fresh new bursts of leaves. The sun was setting slowly, casting a warm light on the stocky skyline of the east side and sending long shafts of light along the grass and the road. Everyone was running or walking, riding in carriages or lounging under a tree. About a mile in I realized I was approaching the girl from before, and I passed her and kept moving. I continued along the great hill at the north end of the park, dipping briefly below the sunlight to climb back up the rocky hillside. Later, as I was nearing the last half mile, I saw this same girl trucking along -- she must have done a shorter route and gotten ahead of me, while I took the long route along the great hill -- and sure enough I passed her for the second time, just a few yards from the 6-mile mark where I was finishing.
I took a few minutes to stretch my legs again, my shirt cold against my back as the temperature began dipping. The girl passed me again, leaving the park, as I stretched. A few minutes later, walking back down 6th to the office to gather my things, I realized this same girl was walking a mere few feet away. Kind of strange. After a few minutes she took her earphones out and said to me, "Apparently we have the same pace, we should be running buddies."
Now, this is the point in the story where L's expression turned from benign amusement to skepticism. And I can see how this could have ended dramatically badly. But rest assured it did not. I ended up chatting with this girl as we walked back to Rock Center -- she works there too, and she ran the marathon the same year I did. And here's the kicker: she looked a lot like L, but frankly, a lot less attractive. She was short, and had dark hair, and sort of the same features, except things were slightly off and the overall effect not as appealing. She looked like a police sketch version of my wife. It was funny, though, because she had been training to run the same half marathon as L, and there seemed to be a few other weird similarities. Who was this girl?
So, on my run tonight I got to casually interact with a strange, less-attractive version of my wife. It was kind of fun and kind of weird, like trying Vietnamese food for the first time. After reassuring L that there was nothing sketchy or weird about it (besides the fact that it happened in the first place) she was fine with it too, and ended up making fun of me, which is how our conversations usually wind up.
With that auspicious beginning, tomorrow we're heading up to Cold Spring for a night away from the city. And then Sunday: L's birthday.