On the First Run

I can run! I’m on a jog on my lunch break for the first time in four months, and I want to tell it to everyone: tourists with itchy, sunstroked faces crowding Chinatown, Dan, down-cast on the street corner in front of that handmade sushi roll place, forty-something yuppies with yoga mats yelping as I dodge them by. I’m drinking it in, the clangs of cable-car bells, the way they fade off when the car heads up the hill on California, the way the riders have a faraway look as if they’ve seen something familiar yet mysterious (maybe it’s warm nostalgia for things they can’t remember).

Everything is beautiful: the way the buttery spires on Saints Peter & Paul church melt into the sky. The easy spring in my stride, which surprises me. The pleasant shade of laurel trees on Jackson, set against Telegraph Hill. I have to hold myself back from racing other runners down the Embarcadero because I’m liable to hurt myself again. But I race them anyways. I can run! I sing a song in my head; it is a simple one for which I’ve forgotten the verse but not the refrain: he who began a good work in you / will be faithful to complete it. And so it goes.

Four miles in, I lope to the center of the divide in front of the Ferry Building and stretch below the sculpture in its center, noticing a small twinge in my heel. Easy now, I tell myself. Don’t let it get to your head. But the endorphins take over and I feel light again.

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