There is not one ounce of me wanting to get out of the car. Rain bounces off my windshield and I have 10 miles to run.
I open the door.
Deciding the 41° didn't warrant my gloves, I tossed them aside and step out of the haven of my car. I hit "start" on my Garmin and I am on my way to run the streets of the small town where I grew up.
My route begins on Front Street; the iconic street in town. Original homes boast well manicured lawns with massive oak trees flanking each side of the road. Their incredible branches canopy the road. The harshness of the winter has caused these trees to loose many pieces of themselves. I watch my step as I navigate through.
The rain is still strong.
The church my parents attended - as were my grandparents founding members - is on my left, my parents' lawyer in which closed out their estate is on the next block and the financial advisor I now use is kitty-corner from him. Only in a small town can so much of your life be wrapped up into 3 small blocks near each other.
Main Street is ahead and I run by the middle school which suffered a tremendous loss this week. This small town made the news and not the way you would hope for your community. The death of a student shattered people's lives and put an ultra-bright spotlight on difficult conversations. My heart breaks for all affected. #voiceforvylit
The corner farm and garden store where my youngest got his first pair of cowboy boots is open. I make note to be sure to stop and see what new gardening treasures are in for this year. The local transportation company is buzzing with activity. I wonder if my cousin is working.
On a whim, I turn into the city park. A handful of years ago now, the community decided to revamp the park. A massive play structure was designed and created. The company I work for donated not only materials but man hours and machinery. Community helping community. I love that.
I take the trail which loops me behind the YMCA and spits me out next to the creek. My siblings and I spent countless hours with our cousins playing in that creek. Today, the rains melting the record snowfall has caused the creek to spill it's banks. It swirls with activity.
Leaving the park I run by the first house my sister and her husband owned. The rose bushes still line the white picket fence.
Further down the road I am greeted with the sign of the first major housing development the town experienced. Financial shenanigans brought federal indictments and destroyed numerous peoples' bank accounts and retirements.
I turn toward the lush, green golf course. More trees grace this curvy road. A teenager driving a brand new SUV decides her need to turn into a parking lot outweighs my life in the cross walk. I screech to a halt and yell "THANKS" in my mama bear voice. She doesn't even tap the breaks.
The road curves toward empty soccer fields. The Rest Home is ahead. After daddy died, my siblings and I donated to them all of his medical supplies. Lord, there were so many. Before mom passed, she wanted to make sure Dad wouldn't have to worry about it and stocked the home full. FULL. Daddy would have wanted us to lessen the burden of another and so we gave them all away.
My girlfriend's green truck is parked in the driveway. Lori isn't home. She has left to take another group on a tour of Israel to walk where Jesus did and pray where Jesus prayed.
Our favorite ice cream store lies ahead. It's too early for them to be open now. When they do open, they will be busy. They are always busy. It happens when you make the best ice cream on the face of the planet.
Two SUVs pull up next to each other in front of the store. They are parallel with the store and both facing the same direction. I watch a man jump out of one vehicle and lean into the passenger side window of the other. He takes something and quickly puts it in his front pocket. A drug deal or someone handing him a stack of bible verses for the kids in his Sunday School class to memorize tomorrow? Both are entirely possible.
The road takes me by my high school. Despite being a Saturday morning, there are a few cars in the parking lot. I wind pass the elementary school and the original middle school. Long gone are the giant semi truck tires half submerged in the gravel that we would play on at recess.
Middle school; such tough and stretching years. I remember hiding in those big tires and crying more days than not my entire 5th grade year. One, because my mom gave me an "adorable" Dorthy Hamill haircut and everyone thought I was a boy. And two, because I lost my first grandparent that year. My grandfather was a tough old Dutchman who was not real affectionate. Loving in his own way I suppose. The next year I lost my Dad's mom who I most fondly remember giving us the biggest bowls of ice cream we'd ever laid eyes on.
As I have made my way through these streets I am struck by the sandy gravel covering the sidewalks every few feet. Where has this come from? It is all over town. My guess is the massive snow and ice storm that hammered the town was fought valiantly with plowing and sanding the streets. In the true fashion of the town, the streets are incredibly clean. Oddly, the sidewalks are not. This is remarkably unlike the town. Then again, we have yet to see any sunshine for people to get out and tend to their yards.
My route has taken me into the neighborhood my best friend from school once lived. The hours I spent there flood my mind. Amazing how different the place looks now - some due to changes and some due to seeing them through the eyes of an adult.
I stand at the intersection waiting for the only light I've encountered to change. Across from me I see the corner my friends stood and watched Dad's funeral procession. After working 25 years for the school district in the bus garage, they honored him by giving a bus procession to his final resting place.
The light turns and I run down the hill and behind the store my sister in law has worked for 20 years. A discarded vodka pint lays in the bushes. Local kids or trash blown from the last wind storm? Not really sure.
The clanking of a horse's tack gear spills from the open horse arena at the fair grounds. The roads are getting busier now.
I'm in my last mile. Still more gravel. I turn back onto Front Street. The rain has let up considerably. There is no wind. My car comes into sight. My run through my small town complete.
I peel off my soaking coat and throw it into my trunk. I put on a warm sweatshirt and head for home.
The weather man says tomorrow and the next day we can expect sunshine. What I do know for certain is that small town will be out with brooms sweeping off the sidewalks and freeing it of winter's gravel.