The Runner Diaries: An Early May Evening

Yesterday I ran many Favors. For the necessary income, but to be honest, also to get out of my house and away from the people in it. Friends with husbands and children have confided their envy of my situation; I really don’t have a choice, I have to disappear regularly to go earn the trickle of money that Running provides. At the time of day that they long for escape, a respite from the sounds of their families voices, I am out and about having my own solitary experience.

I drove through wealthy neighborhoods adjacent to the one I used to live in when my kids were little, bringing burritos to one house, pizza to another, fried chicken to a Chinese kid stuck at the boarding school high up on a hill. Memories flashed through me of long-ago playdates: the homogeneity of the parents, the houses, the SUVs parked in their multi-car garages or their circular drives. Those dreaded “parents please stick around to help” birthday parties, the inane chit chat, the omnipresence of sporting events on enormous TVs.

Crisscrossing the river as the sky began to change, I listened to an album of intense piano music by the composer Thomas Adès. The amount of sound being produced by ten fingers seemed impossible.

North of the river again, I drove past a masked woman sitting on a bench at a bus stop on Burnet Rd. She wore enormous sunglasses and a grubby sundress. She was white and skinny with a leathery tan, her sharp legs crossed in a way that reminded me of an insect. Her face turned south, anticipating the bus’ arrival. It was Golden Hour; the setting sun lit her like a theater set or an Edward Hopper painting. In the light she looked lonely yet majestic. There was something terribly sad about her, but also a fierce dignity.

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