he looks kind of old and broken in, the way your favorite levis used to feel before they started making them stone-washed and pre-worn. he’s a german shepherd mix, i think, although my expertise on dog i.d. is generally limited to poodle, rat dog and big dog. this one’s big.
he’s at the sun ray park, but he thinks he’s in heaven. his mom has brought him here for a game of chase the tennis ball. she flings it across the lawn, over the picnic table, between the baseball fields, 50 yards easily. he takes off at a breakneck sprint, barely missing the ball on the first hop but snagging it with a leap on the second. he comes back, a little slower, trying to catch his breath while his jaws remain tightly clamped to the ball. they must have done this same ritual 50 million times over the years. still, it’s just like he was chasing it for the first time.
i watch them as i run my endless laps around the park. they play again. and again. and again. for a few moments on a perfect april morning, he’s a puppy again.
he and i have a lot in common. i’m old. i wear too much lipstick and i have a perpetual limp that causes people to inquire nervously about my health. i fall asleep in my chair watching the 10 p.m. news. my knees make funny noises that aren’t supposed to be found in nature.
but during that hour a day at the sun ray, i’m the person i was meant to be again. i’m the same stealthy runner i was way back in the day, chasing down lesser mortals on the trail and terrorizing rabbits as they try desperately to stay out of my way. the wind blows through my hair, the sun bakes my psyche, the comfortable cadence settles in, the sweat washes away the gloom of the world. it’s a timeless joy i will never tire of. for a few moments on a perfect april morning, i’m a puppy again.
i like being old.
but i love that daily run.