25 September 2010

misplaced monsoons, jet-lag and apple blossoms

The following are some snippets I wrote in early June 2010

The cat is launching himself throughout the flat, bouncing and arching his back, leaping up on the window sills and ambushing me from behind ill-concealing corners. From the edge of the curtain I see two striped paws stretched, claws extended, resting on my desk next to a stack of blank cds and a memory card reader. And then they're gone again, a stampede and a meow and the cat is elsewhere.

Spring turned into summer and I didn't realise. I turned 34 and didn't tell anyone. I flew to Boston again and saw my sister for her 40th. We had a blast and so did the rest. We walked through Harvard and beyond in the summer sun, we ate pizza and watched the Celtics/Lakers, we got along. One afternoon I insist on running. It's muggy, it's cloudy and by the end I'm dancing through a monsoon. Only in India have I seen rain like this. There are tornado warnings and the streets run like rivers. It's only a weekend and then it's gone.

Before I know it, I'm back in Scotland. Events tumble in some manner of domino order. For a brief moment, on a sunny day, I wander into the back garden. In the back garden lives the hammock, strung between two knobbly, knuckled apple trees. They stand in full blossom, their petals pink with hints of green and already they fall, three or four at a time, spinning on warm cushions of lazy air. I stretch out on the hammock, slowly, and deliberately rest one leg over the other. I tip my Sox hat over my eyes and fold my hands over my chest and in little time I snooze, letting the jet-lag take me.

When I wake up, I'm covered in blossoms and the sun is still shining.

24 September 2010

old running shoes

I bought them towards the beginning of 2008. I was living in a flat on South Street in St Andrews and I'd not yet been to India. The Red Sox had just won the World Series and I was happily in my early thirties, rather than aimlessly in my mid-thirties. Their predecessors had served me well but were wearing out at every seam. I replaced the garish orange trim with a slightly more subdued blue trim. I bought another pair of Asics as I liked the last pair and they've always struck me as a 'serious' runner's shoe.

Not that I'm really that serious a runner. 

How many miles have they run? I don't know. For a while I considered calculating; working out my injuries and lazy periods, the recovery from my eye operation and hiding from bad weather and, of course, the cataclysmic hangovers. I couldn't be bothered. Why put a number on it when the answer's the same: they've seen a fair few. It's probably more than a thousand miles. They've run in Scotland, in England and in Ireland. They've run on both coasts of the United States: in California and Massachusetts. Sunrises, sunsets, and the glorious midday sun; howling gales, morning frosts and the odd hailstorm, their treads wasted smooth in all weather, at all times of day. 

The heels wore out first and I repaired them with packing tape. The jury-rigging lasted me about a year. 

I'd run the beaches and leave them on the landing outside the flat, coated in sand and/or mud. Some mornings they felt heavier than others. 

In the time I owned them I changed jobs twice, ran four half marathons, gained more weight than I lost and didn't write anywhere near enough. I've been on three different continents and helped make three vintages of wine. The Red Sox have not won a World Series since, and the Celtics won one World Championship, their 17th. I attended several weddings but not my own. Many friends had kids, some more than one. 

Can the lifespan of a pair of running shoes be a specific measurement of time? It's no more arbitrary than the calendar year, I suppose. A considerable chunk of life happened while these were my running shoes, and the breathless therapeutic rhythm of those daily exertions helped deal with the peaks and troughs of that life-chunk. 

I've not thrown them away. They're in my closet, unworn since I retired them. Outside the front door of my flat sits a shiny new pair of Asics. I've run in them three times and they've given me some brutal blisters. My feet have healed now though, and I'm ready to give them another shot. 

I don't know how long they'll last.

23 September 2010

still here

In so many ways the title suits. I am still here. I have several blog drafts to finish and post. It's been far too long. I even reached a point where I thought of just wrapping up my blogs. In the end, I decided against it. Writing is proving difficult because I'm out of practice. My prose feels stilted; forced. This blog was meant to keep my writing limber, like stretching before a run. Its neglect has led to stiff prose and it may take awhile to sort out. In any case, if you're reading this, then thanks for sticking around. There's a lot more to come.