“Betty said she prayed today
For the sky to blow away
Or maybe stay
She wasn’t sure.
For when she thought of summer rain
Calling for her mind again
She lost the pain
And stayed for more.” River Man by Nick Drake
I went for a run last night. It was just the perfect night for it. Cool, but not cold. A gorgeous crescent moon was out. People sporadically appeared on the sidewalk, rushing home hand in hand. The streets were paved with freshly fallen golden leaves.
I brought my mp3 player to keep me company since it was dark out. It was still pre-loaded from Chicago with Nick Drake albums. I decided to put “Five Leaves Left” on a loop. What a great decision. Actually, it depends on how you choose to look at it. I wasn’t prepared for a long run, but it turned into one.
I forgot about time. I forgot about distance. I forgot where I was going. I reached out and felt the bushes and the tree barks as I ran past them. Burnt leaves and wood mingling with the smell of decaying leaves before me, I got hungry for something, but I didn’t quite know what I was hungry for. I took off my shoes (vibrams) and ran barefoot for a really long time. The feel, the run, it’s all truly in the texture underneath and the give. I ran so far that I had forgotten that I eventually had to loop back and make it home by running. I hadn’t taken bus fare with me. I put my shoes on and sped off again.
The world went absolutely quiet. It was just the pounding pavement, the leaves, the music…quiet.
Nick kept singing in my ears and I didn’t want it to stop. “River Man” would stop and I’d loop it back to that verse above. The words, “Betty said she prayed today/For the sky to blow away,” penetrated my core and I kept running. Thankfully, I was running towards home by then. I ran faster and faster, feeling like a hurricane that knows not of the destruction it lays before it, only of the whirling dervish, the love it creates in the ecstasy of simply existing.
I died as the strings lifted me up towards that crescent moon. It looked so close that I ran a loop where I thought I was right under it. All at once I felt like running was falling and flying. I ran towards the river, along the river and in the darkness, I looked for the light that would lead me to the street towards home. This went on a while.
I got lost among the little shops, parks and crunchy leaves. The street was yellow golden and I was ruby red. The blood in my cheeks and ears burned with a rushing pulsing heat. Then, like a release, I was safe in the womb of home.
I sat at my desk, in my stinking sweat and rushing euphoria and quietly sketched how I felt.
This doesn’t do my feelings justice. My fingers can’t go as fast as my head. They miss out on so much, evidenced in how I type and leave out words. I draw and leave out lines, curves, and all the chaos that could go in that image. In fact, screaming does it much better justice, but until they invent a place where I could do just that without having to reassure my neighbors that I am screaming out of pure running pleasure, then well, this will have to do.
Flying and falling. This has stayed with me since last night, this euphoria, this incredible, edible sadness. This giant pinprick that stabs me all over.
You have not truly experienced the joy of Autumn running until you forget the world and kick at the golden road of crunchy leaves to the tune of River Man.
Thank you, Mr. Drake, for last night, today and many other days you have filled me up like this. You’ve helped me get through, and dear stars, you continue to. I didn’t know you or could have ever known you, but you are missed.
One more on repeat…