last week, an anonymous individual whom i will refer to as Alfy told me he had a really great spot where we could go running. it was a thursday, more than a little on the humid side, and i was shoulder-sore and cage-crazed from sitting behind a computer screen all day and coveting the tiny square of sunshine flickering across the hallway through someone else’s window (i am windowless, these days of summer’s teasing flounces, a reality i struggle with anew each bright-eyed morning as i lazily fall in love with june each time the sun pulls up another day). i was itching to stretch my legs and looking forward to this new spot, as well as some fun outdoors time with Alfy (for i’ve discovered as of late that the sound of another’s set of sneakers and the short-of-breath conversations that accompany the company of running non-solo are a rather nice addition to my already-nicely-adorned little life — much better than my ipod, and certainly not as expensive).
we set off for the nature preserve and promptly forget bugspray, although this provides a rather ideal foundation for a consistent game of slap-the-horseflies-off-each-other’s- head/back/arms as we run along the little stream to the cacophony of invisible bull frogs and ear-buzzing flitters. the path is beautiful, with trees linking arms overhead and the mercy of soft grass replacing the usual concrete. i quickly resign myself to the fact that the mosquitoes will absolutely win out and enjoy this immensely, the greenery of God’s handiwork displayed on all sides of our tiny path upon which we weave through like wide-eyed tourists in a foreign land, speaking a language that can only struggle through valiant attempts with the imperfection of words to throw lazy nooses around Beauty’s ankles as she trips all around us in dazzling shades of greens and blues. we are laughing, shoes damp and foreheads beaded. we are laughing, and i wonder if i ever loved anything as much as june.
there’s a river disguised as a swamp to our right as we turn a corner, and suddenly we are in the company of bulldozers parked directly in our path. weaving around them but not-for-a-moment considering that this might be a sign of something less than good (i will not say “bad”, for is not adventure born from those unexpected moments you would never, could never have anticipated, and often times would never, could never have chosen? it’s all in your attitude, dahlings…this life stops for no one), we trade in our grassy path for tire-treaded mud. it seems alright at first, hard enough on the sides so that we don’t mistake it for quicksand, but my wandering feet decide to venture into the middle and i’m quickly squelching through a river of mud in my white-and-light-pink sneakers (still laughing, although not entirely loving the mud).
“don’t run in the middle!” he tells me, after i’ve been camped out there for a few minutes in an attempt to discover what my shoes might look like with a total mud-bath revamping. i’m laughing and quite possibly squealing a little, but at least i have absolutely forgotten about the bugs and begin toying with the idea of tackling Alfy mid-mud-pit as a genuine expression of thankfulness for choosing this particular path. it is my first mud-run experience, and i’m quite enjoying myself, all things considered…until the path begins to resemble more of a chocolate river and i’m wondering where my sock line begins, and i stop on the side of the path to see how long it will take me to sink calf-deep into the mud as he sets out to “just look around the next corner” to see if the path clears up. oh, right, the conversation preceeding this point: i’ve just determined that it’d quite possibly be in our best interest to turn around, in the case that we might end up doing the backstroke through this mud bath pretty soon, and he’s doggedly pursuing the idea of continuing on so that we can complete a big loop.
i’ll give you a big loop. i can’t even move my feet.
as these things go, the girl wins in the end, and we pivot in our filthy shoes to retrace our mud-laden steps back to greenery. he’s managed to acquire far less mud than i have (note: his feet are still disgusting, which should give a sense of how fabulous mine looked), and we stop to try to wipe some of it off with leaves. i’m afraid to touch poison ivy, so i leave the leaf-choosing to him.
“here, use this,” he says, handing me a little cluster of green. “i hope it’s not stinging nettle.”
it is. yes, it is.
soooooo, here we are, sweating, swatting, mud-licious, and finger-burning, and i’m already laughing about how great of a story this is – things like this don’t just happen every day, and you can’t contrive them. some adventures are just too good to be fiction, and even my ouch-i-can’t-believe-you-just-gave-me-stinging-nettle ring finger isn’t bad enough to make me miserable. plus, i’m more than content knowing he’s experiencing the exact same squelching shoes and stinging fingers – this is far from misery, but we all love company.
this is where i say i’m going to write about this, and this is where he asks me to use an alias. this is also where he redeems himself by finding some sort of superman water plant that miraculous takes away the sting from our needle-fire fingers, and on the jog back, the wet grass takes away the majority of the mud from our feet. we are sweating, and smelly, and tired, and i’m comforted by the fact that there’s no possible way he can ever see me looking more disgusting than i am at the current moment. and yet, i’m still smiling, and giggling as always, and realizing i wouldn’t have changed a thing just for the sheer story of it.
isn’t that just like life, giving you something you never expected and reminding you that perspective is everything. all you’ve gotta do is simply love it up.

Addendum: since then, Alfy and i have gone running several times. we’ve yet to return to mudville.

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