I used to have dreams about running long distances before I ever became a runner. In my running dreams my body would move swiftly and with abundant strength over fields of grass. I would never feel out of breath, only immense joy in the ability to move my body with such ease and power. Of course, then I would wake up, in my chubby short-legged body and remember that it was only a dream. For years of my life, running was painful and embarrassing. I could never reclaim that exaltative sense of oneness I experienced with my body in those dreams during my waking hours.
Two years ago this summer, with much prodding from my boyfriend at the time, I started interspersing five minutes of running into my walking time on the treadmill. I would venture out onto the parkway to run with him, but in those beginning days, I was still embarrassed of how my body moved, how it jiggled, and how rapidly I would run out of breath. But I began to improve, bit by bit. I kept running after that boy and I broke up, and I turned something that had been ours into something that was mine.
Tonight I went running in the waning summer light, joyous in the cool air. I ran past the Franklin Institute, up the Parkway and down past the Art Museum. Midstride something felt familiar. It was a fleeting memory that drifted past my consciousness and disappeared, like the microscopic sandcrabs you find at the beach that leave only a small pore on the surface of the sand, to prove that they once were there. The terrain was different, pale stretches of sidewalk replaced the field of grass my dreams had conjured, but it didn’t matter. My body ran in life, in waking, like it had in my dreams.

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