The Runner Diaries: April 19

Some stores have plenty of toilet paper, others have zero, the now familiar empty shelves, grubby in appearance despite rampant sanitization.  Some stores have only toilet paper that seems to have been imported from Mexico, four-packs with splashy logos involving bubble letters and exclamation points.  Oddly, they are always scented.  Manzanilla!  Lavanda!

I keep Googling “how to cut a shaggy bob”.  As with cooking, I read the recipes but don’t really follow them.  It’s more of a snip here, snip there, every few days approach.  Some days are more successful than others, but I suppose that could be said regarding much beyond my hair.

Yesterday’s Running was dullsville.  Groceries for seniors in the morning, fun food for twenty-somethings in the eve (sushi, Mexican).   Driving around the city last night, passing apartment complexes where I’ve dropped off food, re-noticing the same street names that took me by surprise the first time I noticed them weeks ago, watching the families on bikes, the couples walking, the lone teenager bouncing a basketball, watching the sky change from afternoon to dusk it all began to feel like a dream, repetitive, unreal.  I listened to the news in the morning but switched to music in the evening.  I was tired of listening to podcasts in the car, tired of reading articles at home.  Tired of other people’s thoughts; I wanted space to think my own.

My older son experiences bouts of depression.  One of his symptoms is feeling unable to read books.  An activity that used to sustain him and bring joy becomes a trigger, a foe.  This is how music has started to feel to me: frivolous, distracting, impossible.  But yesterday it somehow became possible again, and it did bring me joy.   Uninterested in the tedium of making decisions, I turned Spotify’s Early Alternative playlist, which pleased me.  Stuff from the 90’s mostly, some earlier:  a mesmerizing cover of “Lola” by The Raincoats, some Cocteau Twins, some Sugarcubes.  Johnathan Richman, John Cale.  Kate Bush.  Television.

Recollections from past Runs floated through my mind.  The grocery delivery to a fancy house at the end of a cul-de-sac in a gated community on the lake.  As I drove down the street, I realized my destination was next-door to a house my friends live in.  Their teenage daughter’s bright blue Prius, parked in their driveway, indicated her presence there, sheltering at home; her California college campus shut like the rest of them for the remainder of this school year.  I despise that house, it’s obnoxious, enormous and ugly, but the people are lovely and warm.  I recalled parties I’d attended there, kids swimming, sports on the giant-screen TVs.  Adults picking at catered hors d’oeuvres and bellying up to any one of the specially outfitted bars, standing dangerously close to each other–  touching, even, as they waited for another plastic cup of Chardonnay.

Another day, I delivered deli sandwiches (pastrami, corned beef, smoked turkey club) to a person I actually know, a man named Louis.  He’s a friend-of-a-friend; I’d been to parties at his house too, and swam in his pool.  In hopes of a better tip, I texted him through the app: Hey Louis, it’s Abigail, Annette’s friend!  Can’t teach yoga right now so I’m running Favors.  He texted back:  Come by later for a swim!  The pool’s heated.  Louis must not have known this, but like normalcy, these texts were ephemeral; our actual phone numbers are masked by fake digits, so the connection with the other human vanishes once the Favor is complete.





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