Two miles to midnight

Studying… right. 

I am, after all, a student. Senioritis is knocking. Actually, I take that back. It’s far past knocking. It’s barged in, uninvited and unwelcome, and has been crashing on my floor for the last month or so. It kills motivation. “Nah man, you don’t need to go to class! You don’t need to study! Hang out with me and watch Netflix instead! I have tea and mac and cheese…” Luckily, most of my midterms are behind me, with just one looming on the rapidly approaching horizon of tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. I’ve been relatively studious the past couple days because it’s my mineralogy exam, a class as infamous as calc in terms of difficulty and the curve needed so that everyone doesn’t fail. (I didn’t know that when I registered last spring, needless to say.) I was understandably feeling stressed last night after studying for hours and still feeling overwhelmed and confused by the material. It was 11:30 and I was bouncing around my tiny apartment with the nervous energy of a highly caffeinated chihuahua – which is not a particularly productive state to be in. What else could I do but head out for a quick little run?

Weirdly enough, I tend to get a lot of running energy late at night, which I would love to indulge in but usually don’t because I’m worried about my safety. Last night, though, I just needed to get out and get moving, get my heart beating and get some good cold October night air in my lungs. I stuck to well-lit streets and bolted a quick two miles around campus before stretching silently in my driveway, unnoticed by the few passes-by.

Seeing the city at night, especially when there’s cloud cover to reflect the light pollution, is always a little surreal. Sometimes I forget that the world at night is the same world we see during the day. Nothing changes but the light shed on it. And before midnight during midterms, there are still plenty of students out and about, shuffling from Starbucks to library (to bar) to home. The fact that it’s dark out changes nothing. Yet running through the dark night always feels faster, lighter – like the world is slipping by in a blur, as though seen from a train speeding by a city. Your feet barely touch the cement. The sound of your steady breathing is the loudest thing you can hear. Your senses are more limited, so you turn inward. You become aware of how fast your legs swish by each other, how each part of the foot feels on landing, your breathing, your form. Shoulders square above the hips, short, efficient stride, arms pumping smoothly, shoulders back and still, back straight, eyes peering ahead, not quite straining to see what’s next.

I run out a mile. It’s mostly downhill, so my stride lengthens and I feel fast and smooth. A ghost runner – here, then gone. At the bottom of the hill, I go one block right and head right back up, working harder now, all thoughts of crystallographic axes and crystal systems temporarily banished as I force myself to do a negative split uphill. A few blocks from home, I hear someone strumming on an acoustic, mellow chords echoing around the street. As I pass the massively graffiti’d alley, I glance in and see a couple guys sitting along one wall. One of them has the guitar; the others, drug-rug clad, are just listening. Reminds me of nights at crags all across the country. I run on and the strains are distorted until they fade away entirely. I’m in my neighborhood; the streetlights thin out and I race invisible to my driveway. I jog to a stop after my sprint finish, stretch, and go back inside, where my studies await me.

Studying. Right.

peace love and the end of midterms,


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