The Jog

One of the bad things about summer being over, aside from being away from Wildwood on a daily basis, is not working on a daily basis. See, I didn’t really mind working, and one of the reasons why is because it kept me active. It was hard running around—literally—all night when the restaurant consistently got slammed with diners. Now that I don’t necessarily have to run around all night, this only means one thing.

I have to find a way, somehow, to stay in shape. Back home, this was never really an issue for me. Since I usually run, and enjoy it, the island was the ideal place for me to take a long jog, with the beach and the boardwalk as my backdrop.

Not at school. There is nowhere to run at school. Greenville, North Carolina, is all commercial areas—all highways. There is no beautiful beach. There certainly is no boardwalk—just fast food places and apartment complexes.

I figured this means I have to go to the gym. That’s right, the gym. The place I dread stepping foot in the most. I don’t know why, but there’s just something about a gym that I don’t like. Actually, I know what it is I don’t like—I don’t like being inside. I can’t concentrate. I can’t run on a treadmill for a half-hour, watching TV and counting down the minutes on the clock until I can leave. It’s not an enjoyable experience for me, so my trips to the gym usually end in a fast fashion.

The other day, my friend asked me to go for a run with her.
“Where?” I asked.
“Outside,” she said.
“There’s nowhere to run outside,” I said.
“There’s a residential neighborhood we can run in down the road,” she said. “It’s just a little far. We have to run a few blocks to get there.”

Running in a residential area didn’t seem too bad. There would be nice houses for me to look at, maybe some dogs running around in the backyards. There wouldn’t be too many cars passing by. I decided to try my luck.

We set out around dusk so the smoldering heat of the North Carolina sun wouldn’t overwhelm us. As we made the right to depart from our apartment complex, I was excited to finally have found a place to jog outside.

Now, our apartment complex is next to a major highway. It’s not a pleasant place to “run a few blocks” to a residential development. So naturally, when we were half-a-mile into our run, I became a little skeptical.
“Dude, where is this place?”
“Oh, it’s just right up here,” my friend said. “We’ll be running up to it soon.”
Another half-a-mile ran by.
“Okay, seriously?” I stopped running.
“There is no residential area, is there?” I said.
“I knew you wouldn’t come with me if I told you there wasn’t.”
“You have to be joking.”
My friend smiled and began to search for a song on her iPod. “Come on, let’s go. Only another half mile until we turn around.” And she was off.

So there I was, left in the dust, and the fuel exhaust coming from a few feet away, standing beside a major highway, during rush hour, as cars sped by me on my left, while my friend was blocks ahead of me in the distance. And the whole time I wished to be back running beside the beach, watching the waves break and smelling the salt air. I wished to be back running on the boardwalk, smelling cotton candy and weaving in and out of the crowds of people.

But it was time for a little positive thinking. I put on my summer jam playlist on my iPod, cranked up the volume, and pretended I was in Wildwood. And before I knew it, I was.

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