The story of my life: An essay

The weird thing about apartment life is that you can live anywhere pretty easily. Actually the weird thing about apartment life is our crazy neighbor. Which is why we’re discussing this. But first some background.

I started running many years ago. I happily ran hither and yon in San Angelo, my hometown. I would alternate, running hither one day and yon the next, as to equalize things out for my knees. Yes, this was back when I cared about my knees. But then.

One day I got a call from the big leagues. I got to move to Austin, the city of my dreams. But I had to find an apartment.  Where?

My strategy was to start at Zilker Park, home of the most fantastic running trail on the planet, and find an abode as close as possible. In the end, I landed a couple of blocks away, with a connector trail leading from the apartments to the trail proper. I was in heaven. No, not Iowa, Austin.

Then, the ex moved in. Actually she wasn’t the ex then. That would have been odd. She came with two cats. The apartments didn’t allow cats. I considered not telling her where I lived but knew she would find me eventually. So we moved a couple of blocks away to a duplex that was just as close to the trail. The bottom line: My only criterium for a place to live was its proximity to the trail.

Fast forward. The ex got a job in Georgetown, a little town 30 miles to the north. No, she wasn’t me ex then. Jeez. This was OK by me because there were a million miles of farm to market roads perfect for running, and a glorious trail around Lake Georgetown. I had to commute 30 miles to work each day, but I left early enough to run at the Zilker trail. Did I mention I love that trail?

Fast forward. Crazy ax murderer took over the news desk in Austin, forcing a mutiny. As a mutineer, I took the best job I could find in our chain, in suburban Phoenix. The trail running in Arizona was supposed to be terrific, and I have a thing for saguaros. Arriving there, I found a house a block from the canals. These are a system of irrigation canals that run for 300,000.02 miles through town, offering all the dirt running you can eat. It was an OK house, but I got it solely because it was next to the canal and a block from a high school track.

Fast forward. The ex (no, she wasn’t my ex at the time) was finally driven insane by the smell of my running shoes and I was left to my own devices. (lordy, I love a good device.) I ended up in a ratty apartment that offered gang fights in the parking lot next to my patio. BUT it was only a block from the community college track, which is open 24 hours if you don’t mind jumping over the locked gate.

Fast forward. Mo (no, she still isn’t my ex) came along. We moved to Scottsdale, up the road in greater Phoenix. We got an apartment that’s on the greenbelt, offering miles and miles of running, and a couple of miles from the Scottsdale Community College track, which is open 24 hours if you dare run in the dark in the middle of an Indian reservation teeming with rabid dogs. (lordy, I love to say “teeming.”)

Fast forward. The apartments were converted to condos, under the assumption that housing prices would never drop. Those were the days. So we moved south, to the magical land of Ahwatukee. Only because it was a couple of  blocks from South Mountain, a mountain preserve with about 50 miles of single track trails, coyotes and cactus. Heaven. It was a nice apartment, but we never would have picked the area except for the running.

Fast forward. My job (no, it wasn’t my ex at the time) became my ex-job. Although one would think this would allow more time for running, mostly it allows more time for worrying about how a journalist in a dying industry is to find gainful employment. Answer: Texas.

Fast forward. Mo (still not my ex!) sends me down to find an apartment. I choose a rat hole, solely because it has a nice one-mile road loop, is three blocks from a dirt track, and a block from the trail along the bay. Which works until pit bulls take over the loop, the FBI decides to stake me out at the track, and it turns out the bay trail’s sidewalks aren’t that great for your knees (why has nobody ever mentioned that?)

Fast forward. We go apartment hunting today. Mo actually goes to look at the apartments (huh?) while I go over to take a test run. This place is next to a park that has a one-mile loop (OK, 0.97 miles). Shuffleboard, dirt track, soccer, tennis courts, gazebo. Birds with weird beaks that likely will peck me to death at some point, which seems like a pretty fun way to die. Peaceful, fun, amazing, a park that folk songs are waiting to be written about. I run four miles before Mo is done. I march in a puddle into the office and declare my absolute love for the place, despite having no idea if I like it in the least. It’s got great running and it’s far from the crazy neighbor. Good enough for me.

So now we wait for some guy to move out. Does he have no idea I need to get started on this trail? People are rude.

It struck me today that every place I’ve ever lived since I began running has been chosen almost exclusively a the whim of my asics. Those are some very lucky shoes indeed.

Because it doesn’t really matter where you live. It only matters where you run. Everything else is just stuff.

And that is the story of my life. Thank you, and good night.

4 miles, st. andrews, 1:30 p.m. (82)
56:13 (14:02)
13:15, 13:56, 14:12, 14:44

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About gary

no sock monkeys were harmed in the making of this blog.
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