May 1, 2003

From Gerald R. Lucas

Mom and Running

Drove to Mom’s after a couple of hours “advising.” I put it in quotation marks because that’s what they call it; I call it bumbling through serious questions that a professional should be answering for students, not apathetic faculty assigned to five compulsory hours per semester. Well, that duty done, I headed south. The drive was peaceful, but the weather was hot, so I wasn't able to open the windows and enjoy the drive. Instead, I traveled in my hermetic aluminum and plastic tube, isolated from the landscape I’d like to enjoy more.

The visit with Mom was typical: she had some complaints to catch me up on, and I played the patient and compassionate son. I love my mother, but she let’s too many things rile her. Maybe that’s why she’ll live to be 100. After a couple hours of catching up, I decided to shrug off my funk with a run. I was tired from the drive, but I had nervous energy, like the ticking you hear in an engine after a day of vigorous travel. I ran for about 2 miles, when some of the largest cottony clouds I had ever seen puffed and tumbled by. About the time I noticed these weightless behemoths riding the wind that must have been blowing overhead, my iPod decided to provide an apropos soundtrack: Chuck Mangione’s "Bellavia."

The song builds in intensity, picking up brass as it progresses, like friends on a hay ride, until it erupts in a shout of brilliance, like the sun poking through the clouds one final time before it sets below the horizon. I ran harder through the intensity of my own music video in the middle of Florida, but as the final strains of “Bellavia” evanesced, I kept my stride feeling my shirt saturate with sweat, as if it were raining. I was hoping my iPod would follow with another tune that continued the intensity I now felt, and I got another Mangione song, though one that took me into another direction: “Doing Everything with You.”

This song is like a Saturday afternoon in the park with a special someone: it skips along from one event to another, wanting to show you all the joy of a simple day with a friend. This song makes me pensive, and since I had almost arrived back at the house and I had run a good four miles, I decided to let the wind me down. I followed my thoughts through their own melodies, letting them flow where they would, like an old canoe down an even older stream.

I cooled down looking at the fish nab slow insects on the surface of the green pond. The afternoon became still as my high began to dissipate and my shirt dried in the breeze.

We had dinner and watched X-Men. I was in bed by 10, but listened to dogs back for a couple of hours before I did some reading. I'm still working my way through Pierson’s The Perfect Vehicle. It’s a fine book, and she’s generally a good writer, but she seems to try to be more clever than her talent warrants, so often I don’t understand what I just read. She will often write as if alluding to something I should understand, but frequently do not, like a comic making a reference to an earlier joke that I missed because I got to the show late. The best parts of the book are her travels; I just don’t seem to care too much about the history of motorcycles, and I care even less about the history of motorcross racing. I think she put me to sleep about 2.