Sunday, June 1, 2014

Vultures and Vampires

When I was a kid, one of my best friends lived across the street. We had nighttime neighborhood games, like kick-the-can, and ghost in the graveyard. We had sleepovers in my treehouse and we danced in her basement to the strobe light her super-cool older sister possessed. We commiserated over the "vampires", which was, in our parlance, the people who tried to suck the life-blood out of you. We could just mention the V word and know that someone was trying to sap our power.

Because we were powerful.

Today, when running along this road,

the turkey vultures circled overhead.  It reminded me of the childhood vampires. Now, as then, I scoffed. Do not mistake me for weak and powerless. 

It occurred to me today that this is a mantra for my own misgivings, and not only for those who see me as prey. 

I care for the old and the dying for a living. Dying is inevitable. Old age, well that is just a gift we can hope for. My parents did not get it. Many people will not. We like to think it is a curse, this thing called aging. Aching bodies, wrinkly skin, lesser vision and ears that fail us. 

At age 44 I may only be half way there, and though I feel the years in a new way, no longer oblivious to my body's needs, I don't think I am vulture food. 

Today, when running along the roads, I passed through the tri-kids triathlon course. Signs warned me they may be about, but really just made me think: My once-kid triathlete leaves home in a few months.  

College. To learn and grow and live in a dorm and run D3 cross country and likely steal into Portland for  Voodoo doughnuts now and then. How and when did I become the parent of an adult? Should parents of adults still be attempting PR's? Or is that akin to shopping in the juniors section after age 40, whilst clerks less than half your age pop gum on one side of their mouths while sneering at you from the other? What is truth, and if they are calling my child an adult, does that make me one too? Do I like get a badge, or something?

I am going to miss that kiddo. 

There is nothing more true and visceral than running. Than running on a road that evokes memories of vampires of youth. That evokes the certainty of death through vulturous eyes and those ugly-beautiful wrinkly red heads, turkey-like, yet not.  That brings the ugly-beautiful truth of the limitations of a body no longer young, but not quite old either, right to the forefront. That criss-crosses the path of the next generation of tri-kids. That promises health of mind, maybe of body, certainly of soul, and offers proof of what we all know to be true:

what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Win some, lose some. Age. Or not. But whatever else happens, don't let the vampires or vultures get you down. Probably you can outrun them anyhow.

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