Saturday, June 27, 2009
Relay, or Where’s My Duck?
I’ve had a couple of close calls in recent weeks.
One morning at work, my cell phone rings. Not that many people have the number. One of them is a good friend I just spent several months with recently - online, on the phone, in person - developing a new script for production. It was him. Unexpected, but a day brightener, and you never know what it might mean for the writing, so I answer. Never pass up an opportunity to be reminded you’re a playwright on the day job.
And just like that, I knew he’d called me by mistake. This was “boyfriend early morning phone call voice” if ever I heard it. We’re both numbers he calls a lot - me and the boyfriend. Maybe we’re even close together on his directory or his speed dial. However you slice it, I wasn’t the intended recipient of that tone of voice from him.
“Hi there,” I said, trying not to chuckle too much. “You meant to call someone else, didn’t you, my friend?”
“Matt! Oh. Yeah. Sorry. How are you?”
Have to give the man points. He immediately shifted into “good friend catch-up mode” and we got each other up to date. Even got on a roll talking about potential future projects. But eventually, I knew I should give him a little shove back in his original intended direction.
“Now you go call who you meant to call in the first place. Say hi for me.”
After hanging up, I found myself thinking, “So that’s what it sounds like.”
It’s been a while. It’s nice to be reminded.
Another, more local, friend and I went to see some really good theater together. Used to date, transitioned to friends. Every now and again, I’m wondering if we’re on the way to transitioning back. But that’s a peculiar hurdle, particularly when you’re just getting used to one another’s regular company again without the added pressure.
I walked him back to his car. It was a busy thoroughfare, regular traffic buzzing by, making it hard to hear everything we said to one another clearly. We were saying our goodbyes. We hugged and he said in my ear,
“I loved it.”
Meaning the show.
But my brain and my ears weren’t in sync due to the background noise and for a split second I thought he said...
Same subject, same verb (different tense). Different object.
It brought me up short.
Until my ears caught up with my brain, made the appropriate correction, and I shook it off and waved him on his way.
So that’s what it sounds like.
A couple of weeks back, I handed my trainer at the gym a hundred dollars in an envelope.
My trainer, Tim, is big on having a goal to work toward, so he mentioned this 24-hour relay for which he’d signed up. 200 plus miles along the Mississippi River starting in LaCrosse, WI on Friday, August 21st and ending the next day in Minneapolis, MN. Run by the Ragnar Relay Series people (www.ragnarrelay.com), this one is called the Great River Run. 12 people, each taking three legs of the run, varying in length from 3 to 9.5 miles each, varying in difficulty from “easy” to “very hard.” Daytime running, nighttime running. I was intrigued.
I’m turning 45 on August 26th, seemed like a good way to mark the occasion. The original organizer of Tim’s team wasn’t able to pull together the full 12 people they needed, so they regretfully let it go for this year. But Tim likes a challenge and didn’t want to let it go so easily. So he took on the challenge of recruiting 12 people - well, 10 after me and him. And in the middle of one of my workouts recently, he snuck in the information that he’d found the other runners and that the run was back on.
So my $100 part of the entry fee was a little birthday present to myself. And I set about the business of training for the run. Some of it I’d been doing already - runs lasting between 45 minutes and an hour, getting my time down to a respectable 9-1/2 minute mile, starting to incorporate some hills (phew).
In the schmoopy romantic comedy in my head, there’s someone waiting for me at the finish line. But I know that’s probably not happening. Not in a romantic comedy way. I may not even be the one with the final leg in the relay. I may just be riding into Boom Island Park in the van with the rest of my teammates (note to self, figure out where 700 NE Sibley Avenue is). Still, there may be some friends there to greet me, sweaty though I be. My fellow eleven teammates (new friends, one hopes) will all be cheering each other on, a built-in support system. It will feel good to have done it.
At the front counter at the box office, we see the actors coming out for their regular smoke breaks, sitting just outside the glass doors on the back steps. This one actor is normally alone, checking his email or reading a magazine, doing a crossword. One weekend, a young woman appeared with him, a girlfriend here to see the show. How do I know she was his girlfriend? He was sitting, she was standing next to him. He reached out and gently put his hand around her ankle and let it rest there. When she sat down next to him, he leaned over during their conversation and kissed her bare shoulder.
So that’s what it looks like.
Running in the park near my apartment, more often now as I train for the relay, as spring and now summer have taken hold, the birds have all returned, among them, a great many ducks. They’re always in pairs - one colorful, one brown. Running first thing in the morning, I find most of them asleep, their heads turned backward, their beaks tucked into the feathers on their backs, sitting side by side in the grass. Or one awake and keeping watch over their sleeping companion as I trot by.
It’s that time of year.
Boyfriend season, as a (taunting) ad for a social website put it.
Guess I just need to find my tribe.