Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Company You Keep

Ahhhh, vacation! One of the perks of being a teacher – vacation weeks just when you need ‘em. Despite the rain and the fact that I have threatened to kill both children and my husband more than once this week, I am thrilled to be home with my family. Our house is tiny and we are all under each other’s feet, but it’s still been great. The weather is supposed to brighten up for the weekend so we will get the kids outside and maybe I will take them on a walk. Sherri and I had plans to meet halfway between our houses tomorrow to do an 8 mile walk but the weather is not looking good. We will both still walk, just not together. Bummer! I was looking forward to the company. Sometimes I really enjoy the alone time while walking, but sometimes it’s nice to have company.

It was nice enough out this morning that on the way to the gym, I detoured to my favorite park and did 6 miles outside. An audiobook has been keeping me company lately and 6 miles was enough to get me through a good chunk. I have gone through listening phases in the last year of my weight loss journey. Sometimes I must have music. Great tunes are so motivating. Other times, I try to get in as many good books as possible. I have mentioned how busy my life is – mornings are about being a teacher, afternoons and evenings are about being a mom, nights are about being a teacher again (lessons, grading, planning, writing IEPs…my husband works nights), and weekends are about being a wife and mom. Reading is hard to fit in – and if I am being honest, I am more of a television watcher than I am a reader (yes, I know I am a teacher and should at least lie about this but that’s not my style). Therefore, listening to books during my commute and while exercising has been great. I have a membership on, which I love and would definitely recommend. Right now I am listening to Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time. I had a tough time getting into this one but I am enjoying it now. It is interesting to listen while walking because parts of my walks end up being associated with parts of the books. I have left behind many of my 100+ pounds on the streets of Framingham while listening to the Twilight series (yes, the vampire ones). Parts of those books will always be associated with my weight loss, and there are still routes that when I walk them now, I think of Bella, Edward, and Jacob. If you’ve read them, you understand.

On the second 1-mile loop of my walk today, I passed an older gentleman who was sitting on one of the many benches along the way. “Just 5 more times around,” he joked. Little did he know how close he was to being correct. On the next loop, there he was shuffling with his cane about 200 yards further down the loop. “Now you’re cooking with gas,” I said. We laughed and exchanged pleasantries and I was off again. On the next pass, he had progressed about another 200 yards and was again, sitting on a bench. “Come here.” He waved me over. The walking path at this park has two routes. The inner one is a mile long, and the outer, according to the USATF mapping site, is 1.37 miles. I usually stick to the shorter one just for the math sake of it. So this gentleman asked which route I do. I explained and he asked me to do him a favor. “Do the outer loop for me and count the benches along the way. If there are enough, I will give it a go.” He explained that he has emphysema and takes the route bench by bench. I did the loop for him and it turns out that there is about a quarter mile stretch with no benches at all.

When I caught up with him again, I sat down beside him on a new set of benches and recommended that he stick with the 1-mile loop. He agreed and we chatted a while. I learned a lot of nice things about him and his family. He teased me for using our chat as an excuse to sit instead of walk. He accused me of trying to add time to my work out so I could tell my husband I walked 10 miles instead of 6. I enjoyed visiting with him. I hope I see him again in my travels. Now that I think about it, I seem to have a knack for meeting “seniors” when I walk/work out. Interesting. Let me see…

One time at this same park and I spent some time with a gentleman whose dog greeted me. He teased that he uses the dog to pick up the ladies. He talked about his military service and the many years that he owned one of the familiar downtown Framingham restaurants.

At the Y, I recently got talking with an older woman who had gone to BC and graduated in the 1950’s. She shared that her mother has also graduated from BC. There is also a woman with whom I chat sometimes who had breast cancer a number of years ago. She did very well for a long time but is now recovering from surgery for a recurrence in her lung. She walks every day.

Most recently, I helped a man work the treadmill at the Y. He introduced himself as “Dr. Delaney”. Turns out he is training for the 10K in the Senior Olympics. He had previously run a 5K. Impressive! He was trying out the Y because at his other gym, they did not put CNN on the televisions. He gave me his card and told me to email him. Maybe I will now that I have blogged about him.

There is something very calming about spending time with these folks. I guess it turns out that even when I am walking alone, I have plenty of company. My music, my books, and the folks I have met along the way all make for a pretty great tale. It really is true that everyone has a story. Thanks for being interested in mine.

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