|By Bill O'Leary, Washington Post|
In fact, Washington summer weather is not much of an obstacle to me anymore; I like it more the older I get—though something in my physiognomy seems to have turned a corner between ages 49 and 51, and I can no longer justify my brief fling with shirtless running. Or maybe the turn was in my psychology. Was I delusional as recently as a year ago? Very possibly. (Interesting that my previous post on this subject was titled "Illusions," delusion's more kindly fraternal twin.)
Tonight's route was the same one I ran when I first moved into the city from the suburbs. Midsummer into fall of 1995, I ran almost every night, through 90- and 95-degree temperatures, stopping at the exercise stations along the trail to do sit-ups and push-ups, even an attempt at a pull-up or two. It was one of the fittest periods of my life. I was so happy and proud of having made this move, finally at age 33—felt so lucky to have found an apartment in a grand old-fashioned 1920s building with hardwood floors, built-in china cabinets, stucco walls, an arched entryway, even a Rear Window alley view.
In mid-October of that year, I met (or rather remet; he was a former student of mine) the guy who would become my partner for the next eight years. While I continued running—as I had before and have since—I think of those three months when I was on my own in the city for the first time as a precious period in which I was fully myself—myself becoming, for sure, but myself.
I lived in that building for two years, then moved in with the guy. If I hadn't been so excited about what was to come, it would have been wrenching to leave what in some ways I still think of as my perfect apartment. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I love where I live now—the home I own—and the man I'm with now. So much changes over the years without our having to do anything to make it happen. We just adapt. And sometimes embrace. An old home can still be allowed to be perfect in memory.
As I was running tonight, I realized that not only was I on a familiar path on a familiar kind of summer night, but it was exactly 18 years ago to the day that I moved into DC, and into that apartment. July 15, 1995.
Perhaps tonight is the beginning of another run—shirtless or not—that I can't even see the shape of yet. I have no way of knowing.