She asked what I was running from.
It was a legitimate question, as she’d been running her entire life, and I started just last summer.
But I had no answer; I didn’t know what makes me run.
Others have said they’ve seen me training. I’m not. I’m jogging. Long distances. But, I protest (too much, perhaps), I’m most definitely not into training.
I don’t even care what route I take. I just like to run. It empties my mind.
The thing is, nature must abhor an empty mind.
A few weeks back, as I made my way along the winding Nicomekl River, I glanced over at the golf course where my father was its first club president. A sense of pride beat along the trail that sweltering Saturday afternoon.
Back westbound on the serpentining Crescent Road, memories of Dad teaching me to drive were equally vivid.
Down the hill, past the church basement that served as my kindergarten, I passed our old house at the railway crossing and rounded the corner towards Blackie Spit, where I took my own children kite flying this past spring.
My mind was jumping months, years and decades with every few steps through Crescent Beach.
I passed the pier where I fished for bullheads in my youth, a grassy area where I served as a best man years later, and the bed-and-breakfast where I filmed an episode of The X-Files during in my Hollywood North period.
Heading back inland, I noticed the site of the long-gone corner store where I ran errands for my mother at age four – a different era, to be sure – and met the boy who instantly became my BFF.
I jogged past the house where I met my soon-to-be beloved, past the school annex that would serve as our makeshift chapel (and, sadly, to where I returned years later to remove my ring after finding out “forever” rarely is), and towards Ocean Park, where my father and brother worked at the same grocery store decades apart.
Passing the community hall where I did my best as a Cub Scout, I glanced at Kwomais Point, where I was each a camper, a counsellor and a first-day assistant director on the feature film, Dudley Do-Right.
Eastbound on Marine Drive, I looked at the many homes I had visited along life’s journey, realizing that these and other memories have always been there. They just needed a little nudge.
Down into White Rock, past my first house – rented by my parents for $50 a month – past the barbecues and train station, a rapid series of events and faces popped into my mind.
I stopped at the pier for a few seconds to wait my turn at a water fountain, and looked up toward the big house on the hill where a friend’s mother – one of White Rock’s kindest longtime residents – had passed away the day before.
The seconds turned into a moment, my sweat into tears…
A deep breath, and I was off again – past the rock, where I climbed; past the pub, where I socialized; and towards the now-fenced-off-park, where I served as bat-boy on my father’s ball team.
There, my journey went uphill fast, just before the site of the old house where I rented a bedroom in the ’90s. Forget my history, that house – constructed for sawmill workers – had been around since the First World War, until it made way for the future just a couple of years ago.
Up the hill. Legs slowing. Head spinning. Body hurting.
My pastime was losing its allure.
I looked up and noticed Peace Arch Hospital. Where my father and two grandparents had died. Where my three children were born. Where life, too, began for me.
And I realized I must continue to run. And why the route is as important as the destination.
Lance Peverley is editor of the Peace Arch News.