Running From The Summer

Photo by Leo Rivas-Micoud on Unsplash

It was 67 degrees and the prettiest day she’d ever seen in New York City.

She stopped in Columbus Circle just to twirl between the fountains without regarding the dumbfounded tourists. She smiled imagining a younger version of herself being in awe of this view and the ease of which she woke up, had coffee, and found herself here.

She crossed the street into Central Park and dropped into the green and the calm. Amongst the trees and Spotify playlist, she began to run into the early morning towards nothing but her own heartbeat.

It was 67 degrees and he was grateful he didn’t have to put on a suit today. Instead, he put on his running gear and walked out into the last day of the summer. He had plans later, but this morning was his to take in. It felt amazing out and the chill in the wind helped ease the remnants of a headache from the night before.

He crossed the street into Central Park from the Upper East side and skipped past Taylor Swift’s latest song on his playlist — embarrassed by the algorithm. He ran away from summer in the Hamptons, ready for whatever came next.

She had never been a runner before. Back when she was younger, she’d try running around her suburban neighborhood and only make it around the cul-de-sac. This recent infatuation was new to her as she tried to keep up with the seasoned joggers. It was also hard for her to not stop to admire the view or the dogs every few steps.

She was out of breath but her feet kept running. She smiled at every dog and every baby that passed her by. She wondered if she looked out of place there — running and smiling — could they tell she was new to this?

He couldn’t believe how amazing it felt outside. It was as if summer had never happened and the city just draped Fall across Manhattan. It was a busy morning, too — everyone probably had the same idea with the long weekend and all.

He tried not to think about what was coming this week and just enjoy the view — one that was so different from Oklahoma where he was from. And that’s when he saw her. She looked a little out of place, a little too happy if one could be, and… was she running backward to pet that Golden Retriever? He wasn’t sure, but he tried to meet her smile as she got closer.

She thought about stealing a baby golden but decided against it and kept moving on. As soon as she turned her head she saw something else worth stealing. There was this guy running towards her and smiling like she was. Was he smiling at her? Honestly, he was probably just smiling at the same dog she decided to not commit a crime for.

Either way, she didn’t know what else to do because what do runners do in Central Park? So, she waved. SHE WAVED. And then she proceeded to die inside and that same younger version of herself that would’ve been in awe earlier was laughing at her. There really wasn’t another option then, she just kept running.

The smiling girl, whose coffee-colored hair bounced in the wind while she ran, waved. He was taken aback, was she waving at him? There was no one else next to him so she must’ve been. Did he know her? Damn, did he meet her out once and forget? Had they matched on Bumble? Or was that a missed opportunity he was letting get away?

He kept going, mulling it over in his head. Then another Taylor Swift song started playing on his Spotify and he shut the damn thing off. Did anyone listen to Pandora anymore? He stopped to catch his breath, looked towards where he just came from, and decided he couldn’t waste another moment debating it.

She was so embarrassed that it made her run even faster — committed to getting that awkwardness out of her system. She just wished it wasn’t on an incline that she got this motivation, and that she had one of those fancy hand-held water bottles she saw people holding. She took a mental note on how to fit in more next time (and not die of dehydration).

It only took two really upbeat songs to start smiling again because at the end of the day being “that chick who waved” is always who she’s going to be. A little awkward. A little uncomfortable. A little out of place in her own skin but smiling all the same. She decided to just let it go and then the universe rewarded her with a King Charles Spaniel to pet.

Five minutes of sprinting had gone by and he was growing worried that he had lost her. Shouldn’t he have seen her by now? And what exactly was he planning on saying if he did? He was listening to an EDM cardio playlist to not risk being thrown off by Taylor Swift again and was in the zone chasing after just a possibility.

It took a last-minute instinctive turn in a different direction before he saw her again. This time she had actually stopped to pet a dog and it was a damn cute sight. He slowed his pace so he’d have breath to breathe when he got nearer. Still unsure what he was going to do — he just knew he had to see her smile up close.

He saw her look up at him, crouched down, and he slowed his pace to a walk because either he was still running too fast or the closer he saw her the less he could breathe. And at that point there was only one thing left to do — he waved.

It was 67 degrees, a Monday, the last day of summer, and the first day where two people’s lives changed — all it took was a smile and wave.

So, chase the unknown. Embrace the awkward parts about you. Run towards tongue-tied moments. Stop to pet cute dogs. Smile at the world and smile at strangers. You never know when fate could run into you — literally.

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