One need not be a chamber to be haunted;
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
6:40pm, Tuesday evening. Running shoes are on and I’m out the door.
The weather here in Vegas turned damn nice this week, and it was clear I couldn’t ignore it. The sky was turning to that expensive shade of topaz and as I rounded the corner from my house, I broke into a gentle run and was accompanied by a kind breeze. No more than five minutes later, however, I found myself in a full-fledged wail of a gallop.
I tore over a freeway overpass in full stride. If you’ve never had the opportunity to run above traffic, it’s truly exhilarating. Headlights float beneath you and it’s as if you’re able to conquer their mechanical, everyday qualities with feet that fly.
Upon clearing the overpass (and probably having come about 2 miles), though, I wondered:
What am I running from?
I even made a cursory (suspicious?) glance over my shoulder.
I dismissed the feeling and continued my breakneck-for-Erika pace down to the next major cross street where a traffic light halted my efforts.
A park! Jesus, there’s a park here! How many other things have I missed because I was too busy to notice them? I decided I’d take a gander on my way back.
Another mile passed, and I was doing my return swing for the home stretch. I felt great. Not really a ton of stuff going through my head other than the lyrics of whatever song was on my iPod at the moment. It was a beautiful night that, by this time, had faded into the deepest sapphire hues and I was surrounded by a sky littered with diamonds.
True to my word, I aimed myself for a swing around he park on my return leg. Funny how I’ve missed this neighborhood gem before (and even funnier that I was still running without having taken a break here on mile 4.5-ish).
On an exploratory plodding through the middle section that houses a playground area
Something pelted me. Pelted, I say, on my left side.
A glance down revealed a pink dog/bear/animal thing at my feet, immediately followed by a young girl running towards me and an apologetic male
An adorable brunette in haphazard curls, probably no more than five or six, scooped-up the pink bear/animal thing with a giggle and said “HI!” It appeared that the Artist Known as Dad was close behind and came over to render an apology for the Flying Toy Incident of 2007.
No worries, no worries at all. A plush alien had broken me out of my reverie and opened a conversation with Dad. After a few minutes of sitting on the bleachers, I’d pretty much learned Dad’s life story (single dad, lives in condos across the street, park is great for Maggie, so close by … she’s five … he’s an engineer) and realized that the pelting had originated from the young girl’s launching of her (bear) full-throttle down a plastic slide. During the course of my conversation with Dad, she’d gone to retrieve a bear at the end of his flight path numerous times, though there were no more pelting incidents.
And then Dad asked me out.
Maybe I’m dense and should have realized that some of the questions he asked were of the probing nature. I see it in retrospect, but I guess I’m kind of oblivious that way.
And when’s the last time I got hit on at a playground?
A polite decline on my part was accepted politely by Dad, and he and Maggie departed the park for home across the way. I lingered, however, there in the Pick-Up Park. I decided to sit on a slide.
Swings are really my favorite, since you can really scare the shit out of yourself when you get yourself going. We all have some sort of scar or story to tell about a swinging incident gone awry from our childhood. But there were no swings in this park. Slide, it would be.
So, here I was, sitting amidst this human Habitrail-like play system — jungle gym/slide/ladder all-in-one. Thirty-four years-old, sweaty, and sitting on a plastic slide.
I reverted back to thoughts of what I was running from, having run so hard and for so long. I can be a lazy runner, setting out with the grandest plan of territory to cover only to thwart my own design with an early turn-around. But not tonight. Here on my slide, I thought of my demons — those things that dwell inside of me that are consistent challenges and occasionally my demise.
At 34, I’m pretty familiar with my demons. They’re not deep and haunting or standing at the ready to slay me if I carelessly walk around a dim corner. I envision them more dressed-up in one of those little headbands with horns on them and a tail adhered by a safety pin. They’re not all that intimidating, but their MY demons nonetheless, and my life is wrought with challenge these days. It’s no wonder I found them dancing around me like pagans here in a playground while sitting on a slide.
I do ponder how others deal with their demons, though. I see people every day (and I’m sure we all do) who are fighting that ongoing battle to keep their demons below the surface. I’m sure some folks have demons like mine, dressed-up and ready for trick-or-treating. Others I know are more haunted and unwilling to confront them. It’s easy to allow our demons to interfere with the business of living and allow them to actually live for us.
Now that I consider it, our demons can never live for us. Rather, they keep us from truly living.
It’s a huge step I’ve been able to take in life — acknowledging my demons. I distinctly remember a time in my life where it was much more convenient to ignore them and more often than not, turn the reigns over to them and just drift along. It wasn’t a fun period of my life, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized
it’s kind of nice to sit down and have a conversation with your demons on occasion.
(mine tend to prefer conversation over raspberry pomegranate green tea, and yes…they like to be served)
It’s not to say I’m 100% in full control of my demons at any given time. They get the better of me but I’ve found it’s almost an enjoyable challenge to find new ways of living with them, coping. Managing. It’s like having a staff of quirks that 8 times out of ten deliver their work on-time … but those 2 other times you find them hitting a bong in the breakroom and Xeroxing their asses.
What do ya do? It’s hard to find good help these days.
Right then, on the playground of plastic, I decided to take the plunge.
I slid down the slide. (and yes, I said “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”)
It felt nice. I turned around and saw a few of my demons toboggan behind me, giggling.
Lil’ fuckers. C’mon, let’s go home.
The last mile and a half to my house flew by, and I surprised myself again by actually running uphill (my least favorite of all directions in which to run). It was probably because I wasn’t going to let my demons beat me home to my Whole Foods dinner that was waiting in the fridge.
Home at last, home at last. I opened the front door and noticed the bouquet I’d bought along with my dinner on the way home. Sunflowers and other botanical beauties, tucked neatly into an icy green vase in my kitchen.
Sunflowers are my favorite. They’re inherently happy and just ooooooze delight. It’s pretty hard to ever be pissed if you’re staring at a sunflower.
I’d had a great evening.
A six-mile run in gorgeous weather
A random pelting with a plush animal
I’d been hit on at a playground
I slid down a slide.
It was time to have dinner with my demons.