And to rip off the dress, it was time to “mask”. Then I tried half a dozen masks through the months, I settled on a Zensa: bright yellow (so no one had any excuse to run away from me), breathing easily, sweating profusely, and no fog to be able to see out of my glasses. Then I did our “tech” step: u Map of My Run app. Without a chip, a watch, or a Bluetooth, it keeps a detailed map of your route, your pace, your time, and for good measure, allows you to take a photo of yourself to show how smart you look after it. You can email this information to any partner, to keep everyone honest. Little did I know, tracks would be a vehicle for honesty.
I took care of the few blocks to Ray, who looked like Gumby in his green Celtics mask from the NBA Store, the green Celtics shirt from the NBA Store, and I think the same pair of Nike Pegasus shoes cut in green that I had in college . I called him when I sprinted in front of a block, approached Dave, and we were gone. The conference call that was moving the fastest in the East was made, and we had to orient ourselves. “United Nations straight ahead,” I told Dave in DC while Ray and I were heading to East River. “State Department to my right,” Dave replies. Much of our first run was quiet, just a few heavy breaths and rhythmic steps, with a few funny occasions about the sport. But it wasn’t strange.
And we felt clean. Maybe it was my Belkin headphones on. (Don’t get me started on old simple headphones falling every 50 feet.) I was grateful for that, because there was so much to hear.
This is one of the most time I have spent with friends over the years. When you don’t have a family, it seems like the cord is broken. A pandemic is brewing, and the cord threatens to unravel completely. But as we ran, twice most of the week, our calls made me feel like the rope had been knitted together. Texts, memes and email chains with other people seemed soulless in comparison.
“I started a new business,” Ray said one morning, “and I feel nervous. But excited.”
“My kids don’t make new friends,” Dave said another day. “And they’re so young.”
“It makes me sad,” I admitted one day, “that I can’t have children.”
That brought an unusual silence. We all knew it wasn’t an issue we could resolve, of course. But I think they needed to feel and understand that being single wasn’t just a source of vicarious emotions for them. I needed to jump that assumption, bruised. I think it worked, and I think they understood it.
Once autumn came, we started talking about our college days, when we would call home with a cell phone, save term documents on disks, and leave notes on our doors wherever we were. I also started to bring the most beautiful item I’ve ever had, to keep it warmer: a 30-year-old, red and bright North Face shell from high school, which looked as new as the day before. i had. I wear it all winter, rain or shine. They need to make man out of everything they use on the North Face.
One morning, Dave started the call by telling an old story that we had heard more than 100 times. A story of when his father visited him at school and, still a teacher, hated basketball coaches (and Dave) a day after practice by showing the team the correct shooting technique. Since the fifties. Then Dave said, “He died last night.”