No one knew.
Not the employees I’d unintentionally slighted to the point that they now ignored me. Nor the editors I’d annoyed all afternoon with my know-it-all comments, or the higher-ups who gave each other ‘the look’ when I turned to join the group. And especially not the pretty young things I’d overheard make fun of me at that night’s office party.
All these incidents were carefully cataloged behind laughs and smiles, only to be called up all night long while in the bed next to mine a pregnant colleague slept off a lukewarmly received karaoke stint that I had encouraged. By early Wednesday morning, disappointment had settled into dread. Soon as I could, I dressed in the dark, grabbed my hotel key card and headed out of the lobby doors for a second snowy run.
As with the two previous mornings, this one seemed made for running. The air was calm; the concrete buildings and denuded trees softened by an ongoing sprinkling of snow. I started down a steep hill and slipped twice before reaching the base. Getting back up would be even trickier, I realized. But that worry was an hour away.
The roads were quiet, except for the occasional delivery truck winding through the business park. Sidewalks proved just as treacherous as the previous hill and so I went in search of a safer surface, lured toward the beeps of backhoes clearing a nearby parking lot. As I approached, I watched as three Zamboni-like plows moved in different directions. A little Phillip Glass music would nicely complement the choreography, I thought.
And so it went, with me ruminating while running on the plowed perimeters of the parking lots. The flakes grew fuller, and fell faster. They coated the snow banks, the abandoned cars, and me. Some were the size of golf balls, and as I continued in cruise control mode, they clung to my eyelashes, my nose, my hooded sweatshirt and thick black tights. My shoes were soaked; my hair drenched. And just for fun, I stuck out my tongue from time to time to see how many of the golf-ball-sized ones I could catch.
I didn’t want this moment, this part of the morning to end. I wanted to keep running and had almost convinced myself I actually could when a plow came up behind me. I knew then that this session was over. So I gathered my memories and my injured pride and my promise to make this day different and followed the patchwork of interconnected parking lots back to the hotel, discovering an alternative to that troublesome hill in the process. I walked into the hotel lobby with my eyes a little redder and cheeks a little wetter than when I’d left. But I also grinned at the guy who told me I must be crazy and held that smile all the way to my room. Like the snowflakes that had clung to my clothes and camouflaged my crying, I knew this run would stick with me.