Pocketful of Miles

The summer of 1998, I lived in the Central West End with my friend Tamara and working at the St. Louis Business Journal, a great newspaper that I enjoyed working for and appreciated even more in retrospect. Things were going well.

Sort of.

Every day when I got home, I fed the cats, took Tamara’s dog for a walk (she worked insane hours), then I put on my running shoes and headed for Forest Park. Not a lot of people know that Forest Park is the largest urban park in the country. (Golden Gate is a federal park and doesn’t count, and yes, it’s even bigger than Central Park in New York City—I had a hard time believing it too.) Forest Park is the emerald in the city’s somewhat tarnished, slightly askew crown. The Art Museum, Science Center, Zoo, and History Museum are all located in the park, and they all have free admission, which is a rarity among cities. The park was renovated a few years back and is a magnet for the entire city.

There’s a 10K trail around the park, and the summer of 1998, I ran around it every evening. This is probably why I weighed about 25 pounds less back then. For the record, though you’ve probably caught on to this fact if you’ve been following the blog for a while, I hate summer. The heat in St. Louis is like getting a slap from a wet, warm washcloth when you walk outside. Paradox: the only thing I like to do in the summer that involves going outside is running, which makes me sweat more than someone should be able to and still live.

Running’s how I deal with things, whether it’s a bad mood or a plot point I’m having trouble with. That summer, in spite of my decent job, my nice neighborhood and having one of my besties for a roomie, I was in a bad mood.

So I ran a lot.

Every time I ran, I thought of each of the 6 miles (plus .2 for good measure) as something I was picking up and putting away, in my pocket or on a shelf someplace. I scooped up mile 1 like a quarter I’d find on the side of the path and tucked it in the key pocket of my shorts, and I kept going, gathering up each one and saving it for later.

Thirteen years later, I’m still picking up miles. Now that I have exactly one week before I head to Vancouver for graduate school, I’m feeling the panic. I’m also picking up bits of St. Louis and putting them away. This morning was my last yoga class with my instructor Gloria. Next Monday will be my last day at the gym before I put my membership on hold. Yesterday I ate at The Vine with my co-workers Christine and Alzana—they have great falafel, and I just discovered this drink made with rose syrup that you’d think should taste like perfume (and it does, a little) but it’s surprisingly good. It’ll be a while before I get to try it again. Tomorrow we’ll be going to the Civil Life for happy hour, and that’ll probably be the last time for a while that I get to see Jake and have some of his amazing beers.

All of these things I’m picking up along the St. Louis trail, how am I going to fit them all into my carry-on?