I brought my phone on my daily run so that I could start tracking my progress with the Strava app and also because I live in a beautiful place and zoom past amazing things while out and about, often thinking “that would make a great picture!”
Yesterday I missed some great photo opps including a golden hawk in active hunt mode plus the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill , migrated for the day over to the Presidio and flashing emerald green in the branches of the redwoods. I’ve even seen a great horned owl in this same copse of trees, ratcheting its face toward me as I passed beneath it, it’s eyes glowing discs like stars caught in the tree branches.
I call this run my ‘rat run’ – 3 quick miles doesn’t really qualify as a training run but the high difficulty factor of the hills keeps it competitive, which I am to a truly ridiculous degree, something running helps me learn to manage.
Today is Election Day and the flags in the Presidio hang noncommittally, as if waiting to see which way the winds are going to blow. I pass a bus stop where a pair of teenage love birds canoodle on a bus stop bench, modern style – she lays with her head in his lap, both of them gazing intently into their smart phone screens.
I pass the Korean War Memorial where a lone older gentleman stands, baseball cap crumbled in his hands, reading the inscribed names in marble. The fact that he removed his hat with no one around to see touches me – it’s the kind of thing my dad would do, and for the rest of my run, I consider the nature of respect — a gift that has value only when freely given, and loses all meaning and worth when compelled for any reason.
The Commissary is empty at this early hour, a contrast to last night’s run when the porch and lawn were filled to overflowing with a wedding party.
Seeing a group posing behind a tuxedo’d man, I screech to a stop and volunteer my services as photographer and am rapidly piled with multiple iphones; I dutifully take the same picture of the same people smiling the same way for each device, sweat pouring from my red face, wondering not for the first time why there is so little picture sharing in the sharing economy.
The run home is uphill all the way, leaving no room for picture taking or scenery gazing pauses; this is hammer time, when I put on a good song with the right cadence and get close and personal with the pain. Today’s playlist is mostly 80s hits and I make a motivational game of applying lyrics to my entrepreneurial angst. Lou Gramm seems like he’s taking directly to me, leaving the safety of corporate life to launch my own business:
I used to follow
Yeah, that’s true
But my following days are over
Now I just gotta follow through
Madonna’s Ray of Light is especially apropos today as I run with the huge redwoods to my right, the bay sparkling to my left.
Faster than the speeding light she’s flying
Trying to remember where it all began
She’s got herself a little piece of heaven…
This morning I woke to a Facebook post of a video feed livestreaming from a cemetery in far off New York where women were gathering, many elderly with canes and wheelchairs, waiting patiently in a line that stretched for a hundred yards so each could plaster her “I Voted” sticker on the pastoral grave of Susan B. Anthony, who did not live to see women get the vote.
It was a sight that filled me with a joy as unexpected as it was fierce; my daughter will grow up in an America where women run for president, something that was utterly unthinkable when I was her age. What else might change for the better for her?
As the last song on my playlist – Another Travellin Song – boosts me up the hill, a line tugs at my ear
I’m saying nothing in the past or future
Ever will feel like today
Of course the line was written by and for angst-ridden millenials but today I claim it for women everywhere, toiling up the hill red-faced and striving, my sweat mixing with the tears and smiling from ear to ear.