When the COVID-19 restrictions began in spring 2020, I worried that the United States would go into the same lockdown procedures as Italy, where individuals were only allowed outside for work and to walk their dogs. Runs and walks are a vital part of my mental and physical health. Since I am dog-less, I wondered how Portland Police would respond to me out on a run with a stuffed dog on a leash. As a backup plan (which really should have been a primary plan compared to the toy dog route), I bought a simple stationary bicycle to set up facing the television.
The U.S. never went into the lockdown levels that I feared. With losses across the country continuing, I now wish we had.
Instead masks were worn, distances were attempted, and I got to keep moving outside throughout the summer. I signed up for the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee as a goal in place of my normal in-person races. The distance and schedule required an average 5 miles a day to finish in time; I managed 6 mile daily average to finish at the beginning on August. And the next day hurt my back so running was off the table for a couple of weeks.
And then the wildfires…
My home in Portland, Oregon was never at risk of the fires. It was my asthma-lungs and hazardous air outside that was the challenge. For a week I went outside once a day at most for a combined mail-check and garbage-drop. All the layers, including mask, were put into the laundry hamper immediately upon returning inside. And I’d be back on the couch for a bit to catch the breath I couldn’t outside.
Today the sky is bright blue and some trees are turning vibrant hues of orange, yellow, and red. It is strange to realize that October is just two days away. That this is fall 2020. This year has been on pause and fast forward at the exact same time.
And that is one of the many reasons I get outside for a run or walk as often as I can. Those times are how I get to be part of my city (which is not on overrun by anarchists for the love). Wandering familiar neighborhoods and exploring new pathways is how I get to just be present for a little while. The pandemic will still be there. The election will still be there. The job search will still be there. But for a glorious hour or two, I will be somewhere else in my city.
“We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron, Star Wars: The Last Jedi). – #52sparks is my year-long writing series for 2020, based on an art prompt challenge. The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. This series is to explore what hundreds of inches and words can do.