The air is crisp, and the wide sky is bright morning blue. I haven’t had good running sneakers in a while; these feel extraordinary. I tug my black fleecy headband a little lower over my ears- how do they get so cold? And I am running. I am running the same streets I ran twenty years ago; and how, by the way, am I old enough to have been running twenty years ago? Someone explain that to me.
The houses that line the streets are as quiet at this hour as the streets that organize them. (They are as quiet at this hour as they are at every other hour, for that matter.) Everyone has scattered- the children to school, the grown-ups to work. The family huddles have all shouted “Break!” and hurried to their respective places on the field. I pass no one except the very occasional biker or runner. I wonder if they were running crowded red dirt roads this time last year and are now finding these paved beauties as strangely peaceful as I do. Perhaps not, but I imagine my neighbors have their own unique surprises well-hidden under those layers of reflective spandex.
A buck and several doe amble across the road in front of me, seeking a more satisfying breakfast than what the previous yard had to offer. They care nothing that I am heading straight for their little procession. This has been their haunt as long as it was mine; they’ll not be rushed through their meal or bullied off the road by a pony-tailed creature who doesn’t run very fast. I was two when my parents chose their corner at the end of one of these streets. They put down concrete and put up walls and named it home, back when houses were scarce and the deer roamed a more natural habitat.
It’s a quite different neighborhood these days, but the deer are still here. Like that one guy who’s holding out, refusing to sell no matter how sweet a deal he’s offered, they’ve held on, willing to accept their place among the construction and contractors and community upgrades. The buck lifts his head as my stride lands a few yards from his grazing patch, and instinct bids him freeze. I wonder if he knows that his branchy antlers do not blend into the red brick and white shutters behind him as much as he might believe they do. He belongs here. And yet he does not belong here. I commiserate.
I feel the plight- belonging and not belonging, though certainly less now than when we stepped off the plane almost five months ago. Five months. Where have they gone? I was living on the other side of the globe just last summer. And I was living in this very neighborhood just thirty summers ago. Where did all that time go too while we’re at it? “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” He teaches me something about the truth of that right here at the intersection of Slumber Pass and Wooded Acres. I climbed these very trees. If I close my eyes but a minute I can still feel the earth unleash its solidness on me, vibrating through feet up shin when I dared to jump from these limbs. My boys climb them now, these strong boughs grateful to be freshly appreciated by a new generation of monkeys.
All of this to say, we are back living in the States now, figuring out what “home” looks like, and have not, in fact, fallen off the map as my long hiatus from blogging may have led you to believe. For those of you inclined to keep reading my ramblings, I have this lovely, redesigned space now where I actually hope to branch out a bit in what I share with you. You’ll find my usual reflective blogs on life and faith, along with periodic personal updates, some poetry thrown in for good measure, and perhaps the occasional short story with which I have been experimenting.
Rumor even has it that I possibly wrote a novel last year that is trying to break free into the wild world even though I keep telling it that it’s very safe right where it is. We’ll see about all that.
In the meantime, if you were already subscribed to receive blog updates at our old site, The Stehlik Chronicles, you will automatically continue receiving emails with the latest posts here.
In short, I was living in Africa, taking a hiatus from the blog world, and now I am back.
by Sarah Stehlik
February 16, 2016