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  • How it began: Finding hope and comfort in the desert

    This morning, I made myself go for a run. It was a short one around our little corner of Edgewater, just something to get me going. It’s taken Chicago a while to warm up (a phenomenon I am well acquainted with growing up in the northeast), but after a lonely and seemingly never ending winter with little social interaction, I now fully understand the unbridled joy that my longtime Chicagoan friends feel for spring! This Tuesday morning run was windy, humid and had a fair amount of sunshine, and somehow, it reminded me of early morning runs in the desert, before the sun had burned up the moisture in the air that had accumulated overnight. One year ago around this time, I was getting into great running shape in Phoenix. It was one of the only activities I could do in the midst of our first lockdown, and it was one of the first routines I upheld for a while during the pandemic (and like most of my pandemic routines, it eventually dropped off). Although it was only March in Arizona then, it would still get pretty hot during the day, so Scott and I began to get our runs in early, usually around seven before the pavement really started to heat up. We would hop in our car and drive a short distance north 7th Ave to one of the entrances of the Arizona Canal, a waterway that cuts through the middle of Phoenix. Along the canal there was a long, mostly-paved path which gave way to views of geese, families of ducks, and giant, weird-looking fish that sometimes jumped out of the water. It was lined with occasional shrubs, cacti, and desert flowers in some areas that decorated the backs of the adjacent apartment complexes. It wasn’t all pretty: there was the shopping cart lodged in the bottom of the canal, a fair amount of trash and debris scattered along the banks of the water, and various friendly and/or sketchy characters walking, running, or sometimes, stumbling along the path. One of these characters used to walk around with a giant gray parrot on his shoulder.

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