Monday, July 26, 2010
Just the two of us.
A few weeks earlier she had begun her training for the high school's cross country team. Rising seventh graders are allowed to join so she decided to give it a try. A few days before our trip to Nags Head, NC we hiked with several teammates up a well-known trail in our area. The others were slightly older than my daughter, but she carried her pack and ascended the mountain right along with them all.
It scared me, though. Her growing up, that is-mixing so easily with these teenage women.
She seemed groggy as rays of light now infiltrated the tiny spaces between the blinds in our strange home for the week. I dressed quickly and quietly in the bathroom.
"Do you still want to go? It's really going to be hot."
"I know. I want to go," she said in a perturbed, defensive tone, as if my question immediately insinuated her weakness as the fairer of the species. I didn't mean it that way, but they never believe you anyway, so I kept silent.
Soon she tied her laces and we opened the door to greet the oppressive air. The weatherman was most correct in his prediction. Sweat started to bead up on me before we finished stretching. My shirt showed the signs by the time we got to the end of the driveway to start running.
"Oh, eight miles should be good."
"Eight miles? We're on vacation for crying out loud. Besides, it's hotter than a depot stove out here. How about we just run until we think we need to turn around? Deal?"
"Deal," she said.
Around two miles I noticed her flushed face as she began to rest her hands squarely on her hips. She labored hard in the humid, coastal air.
"You ok, sweetheart?"
"I'm fine," she said in the same defensive tone from earlier.
"Want to turn around?"
"Only if you want to, Daddy."
I knew what she meant.
"I want to," I said.
After the third mile, I sensed her struggling some more but didn't dare mention it.
"How about we slow our pace a little?" I asked. "My old legs are starting to ache."
"Ok, if you need to," she said.
the waves that crash around us all...