Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A day at the races ...


I ditched my car in the first spot I saw on Park Point. I was in a dead sprint, or what constitutes as one these days, before my second foot hit the ground. Whoop-whooped the lock over my shoulder, chugged along.

I'm used to 6 o'clock meaning "sometime after 6," shrug, yawn. But the Norwegian Wonder called at 10-to and wanted to know if I'd get there in time and suddenly I was all, Oh. I suppose this starts at 6 p.m. The *real* 6 p.m.

I was going to miss my baby's race.

I finished what I was doing and bolted. There was a U-turn. Some indecisiveness among my peers at a 4-way stop. No you go, no you go bullshit. Then, of course, I got bridged. Stalled in front of an Old Chicago, imagining my tot zombie-walking her way toward her first finish line.

"You and your sailboat," I thought. "I hope you're real happy. I hope you're the happiest blasted sailboat owner in all the land."

I imagined a solution to this problem of getting tall boats under the bridge and through the canal without leaving drivers trapped, left to simmer in the essence of chain deep dish. What if they built a taller bridge? The incline could start way back here. It would be steep, but. Then I saw the new bridge coated in ice, Subarus cartwheeling off of it and into Lake Superior. Dangerous.

Finally those fun-loving, carefree sailboaters passed, the bridge locked back into position. I crossed it and wound along the point. An electric sign announced a low threat of rip currents and that there was a lifeguard on duty at the next beach -- 3.3 miles away. I did an approximation of math. At 30, ok, 40 miles per hour it would still take more than 3 minutes to get there.

I took a deep breath and thought: "You are so calm, they'd have to wake you up to put you into a coma. Your arms are feathers. Your spleen is a leaf in the wind."

More winding and all of a sudden, standstill. Waiting for an elderly woman with a free flowing mane of grey and her reusable tote to cross the street. Park Point is a character-driven plot of land. It's practically its own country, I decided. It's like the whole place was sprinkled with muscle relaxers. Are shoes even legal?

Toward the end of the Point, cars were stacked along the edge of the road. Not good. It was the finale for Wednesday Night at the Races, in which kids run from Point A to an inflatable Finish line however many meters away.

Technicality: The PBG isn't walking yet, per se. Nothing a sports psychologist couldn't right. She's too in-her-head, you know? If, say, we were walking and my hand slipped out of her hand, she would continue two steps, realize she was alone and drop to a heap on the floor. So for now she would need an assistant for the race. But, it's not like it's Olympic time trials, so.

So I sprint toward where I think this thing is happening. A man in business attire angles in, also sprinting, on my left.

"Where is this?" I heave.
He points.
"That yellow thing is the Finish line, I think."
We continue running, jumping over obstacles, dodging trees and pedestrians.
"We look like a commercial for working parents," I say to him.
"We're just trying to find some balance in our lives," he said.

I veer off and see the Norwegian Wonder and the PBG -- fresh from their finish. The girl was cutely wrapped in a too-large T, clearly flushed with a runner's high. I know the look. A thick dribble of sweat rolled down my back.

The PBG heard everyone clapping, the Norwegian Wonder said, and stopped just before the Finish line to clap along. Our girl loves to contribute to applause, that's the truth.

Anyway, it was all pretty informal, so I grabbed her and managed to sneak into the final heat for another race. (Just before it started, a woman told the PBG not to touch her kid in case she had germs. LOL). I mostly carried her, but let her pass under the inflatable finish line with just a little assistance.


Photos by my friend Alicia and the Norwegian Wonder.