Kate walked down the wooden steps to the running store with a smile on her face. After she had decided to start running again this morning, she needed to get a pair of running shoes. It had been a really long time since she’d bought running shoes. Her first shoes were the first pair of running shoes ever manufactured. But, that was a long time ago. They were simple. She remembered having blood blisters on her young feet from running in shoes that didn’t really have good technology. Now that she considered herself middle-age, she thought she should invest in proper gear. After all, she was making a commitment to do this.
The $100 price tag hurt. Ever since her relocation, and the almost instantaneous breakup with her fiancee’, she’d been left with a big financial burden. She took a pay cut for this job, but she also thought she was going to be married. He’d had a tough time coping with the move, and he left in a huff in early October. He packed up his cat, his belongings and drove back to the Pacific Northwest. He’d stopped along the way to call her and ask to come back, but, by now, she was done with his moodiness. “Keep driving,” she’d curtly told him and hung up the phone. He’d left her with a mortgage that was intended to be paid on two salaries so money was tight. But, Kate wanted to make it on her own. She’d spent so much time in relationships with men that didn’t pull their weight, and her heart needed a rest. Honestly, she just didn’t have the energy to contend with another human being’s needs anymore. The purple New Balance shoes felt good in the store, and the great thing about running was that really all you need are good shoes. It felt good to buy them.
The clerk in the running store told her that they hosted a beginner’s running group on Saturday mornings. She’s missed it this morning, obviously, but she committed to joining next week. It might be fun to run with other people who were trying to get into shape. Her workaholism and hectic travel schedule had kept her isolated in the last decade, and she wanted to meet some new people. Besides, maybe they knew some interesting running routes. For this weekend, she decided she would start Day 1 of the Runner’s World training program tomorrow morning. The schedule said she should walk for 12 minutes, run for 1 and then walk another 12 minutes. Surely she could do that. She’d been walking for almost an hour at least 5 days a week downtown. It seemed to be a little bit slow for a start, but she’d always overdone it in the beginning, so why not take some advice and start out slow. Patience was not her strong suit.
The running store was located in a re-purposed Victorian home on a side street just off the main drag. She put her purchase in the car and walked downtown to see what was happening. A hot dog vendor was on the corner of Main and Bluff, and she stopped to get a Chicago dog from him. She sat down on a bench and watched the tourists walking into Kilwin’s for ice cream treats. A few of them had dogs, and they were sitting outside, taking turns going in so someone could sit with the dogs. A german shepherd mix was laying on the sidewalk with his tongue hanging out, ears perked up with what looked like a giant laughing smile on his face. An elderly lady leaned down to pat him on the head, and he licked her ice cream cone. She giggled with delight and then gave him the whole cone. The dog’s owner apologized profusely, but the woman just laughed and said, “It’s my treat.”
At sunset in St. Joe, Lakefront Drive parking lots fill with elderly couples watching the sun go down as they eat their fast food dinners in their cars. Kate always wondered how many sunsets they had watched in their lives. And, she wondered if they ever questioned if this one might be their last one. At 40, she was starting to think of her mortality, but she knew at 70 and beyond it would be a much more prominent thought in her mind. Her new motto was Life is short. She actually hadn’t acted on its wisdom yet, but she was planning on it – because Life is short. She wrote it on her bathroom mirror, and it’s been percolating in her brain for over a month now. What do you do when Life is short? she asks herself everyday now. Most days she has no clue. Today, she decided to get an ice cream sundae.
Coconuts was located at the end of Bluff St. and featured homemade ice cream and candy. Kate’s favorite sundae was a concoction made with blue ice cream that tasted like vanilla heavy with nutmeg covered in Marshmallow Creme. She took her sundae in a plastic cup to the same bench where she enjoyed her mocha this morning. Walking over, she decided to save it until she got seated so she could enjoy every bite. The sidewalk was packed with tourists. There was a small antique show on the bluff. Vendors set up on the grass, and patrons were going in and out of the booths while lazily enjoying the view of Lake Michigan in the background. A young cyclist – about nine years old – came riding toward her on the sidewalk. As he neared her, he reached out his left hand and screamed, “Whipped Cream!!” in the same instant he swooped her whipped cream off the top of her sundae and shoveled it straight into his mouth. His Dad was riding behind him and immediately laid into him, apologizing for his son’s behavior. Kate couldn’t help but laugh. It was so unexpected, and it was so delightful to see that look on his face in the moment he went after her creamy treat.
She thought to herself as she giggled about the culinary robbery, When is it that we stop going after what we want? A more sobering question went through her mind as she considered the initial question. Her eyes dropped, and she quietly whispered to herself, “When was it that I stopped wanting.”