Today I crossed the street

I am putting this here, now, so that you can see what it was I did today. What it was I learned today. And with this thing, learned, a thing you’ve probably already learned and which, in theory, even I sort of knew before, though in a hazy kind of way, I have surprised myself. My world has grown bigger, even at this lamentably late date.

For nine years – no, let me be honest here, for eight years ten months – I have run the three-mile perimeter track at Rice University. Three or four times a week, the same track, in the same direction, passing the same trees, the same driveways and, more often than not, the same people.

Three or four times a week for eight years ten months is, if you bother to sit down and work it out, more than one thousand six hundred thirteen times, which is a lot. It is as much as I’ve done anything.

But today, on the occasion of my one thousand six hundred fourteenth time around the Rice track, a voice came to me and it thundered inside of my head, “Harry, why don’t you cross the street?”

I have never crossed the street, never considered such a thing. I have never gotten off the track, but today, after the voice and all, I got off the track.

I crossed the street.

And across the street, much to my surprise, was a four hundred fifty acre park, resplendent with ponds and ducks and boats and an outside amphitheater and a zoo… and with miles upon miles of fantastic jogging trails.

If you had come to me, yesterday, and if you had said to me, “Harry, I want to go to the zoo. How do I get there?” I believe that I would have given you reasonably good directions. I have, after all, lived in Houston for thirty-five years. I’ve had a vague sense that there were things, you know, over there, across the street from the place where I run. You would have come back to me, later on, maybe right this instant, and you would have said, “Harry, I followed your directions to the zoo and they were good! They led me right there!”

So how is it I’ve been running around in a circle for the better part of a decade now, when, unbeknownst to me, only fifty feet away, there’s existed a world of much bigger, better, and far more aesthetically engaging jogging trails?

It is as though I’ve been taking guitar lessons from my drunk and twitchy, one-armed Uncle Sammy on a fucking ukulele while just outside my door, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Django Reinhardt, and Tom Morello have been secretly jamming…

…for nine years.

Well, for eight years ten months.

So okay then, who’s been keeping Hermann Park a secret from me?





Comments

  1. No doubt that's more aesthetically pleasing than the 'burbs surrounding it. You can even go for a swim when you need to cool off!
    Do you not ever look at maps for your local area though? Something like this would've likely stood out immediately.
    Thank your voice, something good came of listening to it!

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    1. My understanding of my city tends to expand as required. Everywhere I've never needed to go might as well say, "Here Be Dragons!"

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  2. You need a drone. Do your own exploration with it.


    Just don't bomb anybody.


    Yet.

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    1. I wouldn't even know who to bomb. I used to know who the good guys were. Now I'm not so sure.

      Even my exes... They could be the good guys after all.

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  3. My wife gets irritated when I say Columbia, South Carolina and the chicken shit small towns around it don't have decent parks. My favorite being the waterfront park all the way down in Mount Pleasant on the coast. A two hour drive to reach that I admit can be problematic since I-26 wasn't designed for the level of traffic it has to deal with now. Depending on the circumstances, like a traffic accident, that drive can take much longer.

    Just for giggles after one of those discussions with my wife I looked all the parks in my area on the internet and was partially vindicated in my opinion. There are two in Columbia itself that don't readily suck, but even my wife agrees they're not as pretty as any down in the Charleston area.

    Glad you found a nice one so close to your location.

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    1. Yes, since writing this, a few people have made clear to me some downsides of going to public parks, especially late in the day. I'll have to check it out more thoroughly before reaching any conclusions.

      I find running tracks in order to run, not to turn into an innocent bystander or material witness.

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  4. Better scenery and a mini train that will be useful if become in need of a ride back.

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    1. Exactly. My mother tells me that I should have known about this park, as I road the kiddie train thing on visits to the zoo when I was a kid. I don't remember. Besides, it's a little different when you get to a park in the back seat of Mom's car and you can't even see out to know where you're going.

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  5. Routines are powerful. I find them quite useful, though, especially with my disability, but I feel like breaking out of them every once in a while is good for me. You never know what you might find.
    Then there are the times when I learn of stuff right in my own back yard (or more truthfully, two blocks from my mailbox) by reading the blog (or more truthfully the twitter feed, as he no longer posts to his blog) of a man who lives in Washington DC.
    That happened last night when I watched a video of a man who calls himself Fantastic Negrito. He's a musician who is based two blocks from my mailbox, and he kicks more ass than I thought there was in the world. Well, maybe not the world, but certainly Oakland.
    So I was watching the video and asking myself, how can I not know about this guy? He performs right on the sidewalk.
    Anyway, running and walking are some of the most healthy activities one can engage in, and my doctors credited all of the walking I did before my stroke with the fortunate nature of my recovery.
    That park looks wonderful.

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    1. I think I need a schedule, so routines work for me. If I didn't have a self-imposed schedule of when I run, when I work out, when I write, when I go to work, I'm fairly certain I'd end up an alcoholic. I can't explain it except to say that I will stick with a schedule I impose on myself.

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  6. It took you almost a decade, well... eight years and ten months, but you've ran into the wild, and you're delighting in it and telling us about it. And that, my friend, is what matters. That you crossed the street. Some people, never leave the circular running cage...

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    1. Sometimes I forget how much fun life was back when I didn't know what was going to happen next.

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  7. Glad your world has expanded. There's a lesson in there for all of us.

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    1. If my 93-year old grandmother can figure out how to download apps on her ipad, I sure as hell can take a chance and cross a new street once in a while.

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  8. Let that be good advice to all of us...always listen to the voices in your head and sometimes...only sometimes mind....do what they say.

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    1. After my last post, which was sort of a "Life is meaningless/I'm just waiting to die" sort of thing, I thought this one might inject a bit of positivity into things.

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  9. That was so brave of you to snap that last picture right on top of a train track, knowing damn well that a barreling steam engine could have run you down at any time.

    And you act like you're not adventurous.

    So has this piqued your curiosity to explore further, or is Hermann Park your new jogging home?

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    1. Since writing this yesterday, I have been told by more than one person that the park might not be somewhere I want to be alone at night. So I'm going to test it out before committing. The one good thing I can say about running at Rice is that I've never been nervous there, no matter how late I go out.

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  10. C'mon, not exactly right across the street. You still have to weave through the medical district. This is really surreal to me because we have probably definitely passed each other on that Rice loop. But alas, no longer. Enjoy the fun of Herman Park. Also, pretty solid zoo...except for the elephant exhibit, that one is depressing.

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    1. There are more than a few rats running across the track after dark at Rice, but other than that, I've really had no complaints.

      You and I could very well have stumbled past each other. It sounds as though you've worked writing grants for non-profits, which is something I did for a year (for AIDS Foundation Houston) a few years back, on a break from the law thing.

      Despite the "small world"-ness of it, I don't remember ever seeing a pickle with antlers in my adventures around Houston.

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  11. This taught a lesson for me and gave me some clarification as i am thinking of moving my ass out of my home ha ha.Excellent post with excellent allusion I love it.I guess its the fear of unknown that prevents us from doing new things.

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    1. Hey, Arun!

      It's not just fear, though. I mean, the thing that makes me buy the same foods at the store or go to the same restaurants week after week isn't fear.

      There's something to be said for a good routine. Mark Zuckerberg, who founded facebook, apparently has tons of tshirts and slacks that are the exact same color - and that's all he ever wears. He says he doesn't have to think about clothes that way.

      It's nice to break my routine sometimes, but if certain things work, I'll keep doing them.

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  12. Replies
    1. There were ducks and even a stork. But by the time I went back to my car for something to take pictures with, I was about ready to go home. Maybe I'll get more diverse pics next time.

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  13. I need routine and I need variety. Routine variety?

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    1. You need a routine that brings in variety on a regular basis. "This morning, it's time for our regularly-scheduled bit of spice and novelty."

      Yeah, that actually works for me, too.

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    2. I like the way you put that. Scheduled spice. I suppose I do that, informally/not on purpose, but planning to do that could be really fun.

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  14. The Universe wanted you to cross the road, and I am so happy you did! What a gorgeous park!!!

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    1. Me too. I can tell by my posts when I have started to get into a negative rut, and it was time for something a bit brighter. This week is better than last week.

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    2. It's amazing what can happen when we change our normal route to anywhere. It's like a new world opens up before our eyes. Both the mind and body benefit from change.

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    3. As absolutely resistant as I tend to be to change, I think you're right. I've been in a better mood all week. I need to shake things up more.

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  15. So how were you supposed to know the zoo would include you?

    Ok, so you should have left the confines of your track a bit sooner. Done now.

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    1. My cage has been unlocked the whole time!

      Next up: I'm going to find a different route to work.

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  16. I would blame the chicken. Apparently people have been trying to figure why he crossed the street forever. Glad you found the park. Enjoy it.

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    1. The chicken heard a voice in his head telling him to cross the street, obviously. Glad the voice took a break from harassing chickens last weekend.

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  17. I'm the same way. Sneered at the very idea of the Poconos for 30 years. Thereby squandering 30 good years of hiking amazing trails and seeing stunning waterfalls.

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    1. Nice. I do all sorts of things a younger me would have looked down my nose at, and I like it.

      Still don't watch sports, though. There are some bridges I won't cross.

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