TALES FROM THE TRAIL (AND SOMETIMES THE ROAD TOO)

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Sad Freedom

Not one of us here got good sleep last night -- much on my mind, I'm pretty sure that I woke every hour. Just before waking for good, I dreamt that I rollerbladed along the asphalt Aliso Woods Trail. Then I daringly crossed over the "Closed" section, the one that intersects Wood Canyon Trail, and doesn't have a gate. It's just simply closed off to travelers. I breezed over that thing on blades, enjoying the freedom, until the trail took a turn toward the creek. Then after a sharp right I discovered a hidden treasure of a trail. It ran alongside the creek, beside secret homes for the privledged who had to access this heavenly trail.

Well, I scooted down a steep slope in my blades to access this dirt trail, when I found myself on a richly manicured lawn and before me, a gigantic wildcat. She was as tall as my shoulders, grayish-brown, and a cross between a cougar and a lion. Basically, it was a cougar with a mane. Well, I backed up slowly, moving my way up that incline. And just as I was about to hop back up onto that paved trail and skate away, the rangers drove by. Fearful that the cougar-lion might pounce, but more afraid of the rangers, I ducked and hid there until the rangers were good and gone. Then I hopped up on the trail and raced along the asphalt trying to make it back to the public road before the rangers caught me on a closed portion. But there was snow everywhere now, and hikers kept stopping me to ask the way. Frustration grew when I finally woke.

So what does that dream mean?

I have no idea. I'm sure in some way, it symbolically tells the story of sending my boys off to school today. Sure, I looked forward to this day. Today, I would gain my daytime freedom. No more nagging, no more 3 boys fighting. But it was very sad too. No more three boys lounging around the living room during breakfast, no more three boys laughing too loud in the morning. I missed them terribly, and ruminated over the fact that our guys are growing up so, so fast.

And so what did I do when all the dropping off at schools was complete?

That's easy. I'm sure there's no guessing here. 9:20 AM, I clipped my ipod to my belt, and I ran. Beneath cloudy skies, I ran down to the state beach, then through the smoky campground, and out onto that long stretch that used to kill me nearly six years ago. The tide was high, and when the sun finally broke through the clouds, its shine created thousands of fluctuating silver glimmers across the sea.

The wind blew cool, the sun beared down hot, and I ran some more. I ran out to the rock jetty where old fishermen threw out lines into still waters. Across the way, hundreds of pelicans mulled about the filling station dock. Plenty of other runners made the rounds too -- perhaps they also had sent children off for their first day back to school.

And I ran some more, through the wharf, its restaurants practically empty of tourists, seaguls prancing along roof tops, flies swarming in their glory at back door entrances.

And I ran some more beneath the bridge in cool shade, then up and over it to my island. Squirrels with tummies bulging ran across my path. But it was the walkers who blocked my path. Drinking fountains quenched my thirst, all the while, I thought about nothing. Nothing.

And I ran some more.

I didn't stop until I reached the cliffs. Waves crashed upon the jetty, sending easy, routine splashes toward the trail. I stopped for a second here, noticing a burn in my arms from my shirt seams. After rubbing chapstick along my arms, I took off running again. And I took that big hill home as fast as I could, no hands on the hips, just looking to the ground, listening to my music, thinking about nothing.

Freedom is definately kinda sad.

Miles logged this morning: 11.36
# of other runners on my route: 19

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