Tempe, Arizona -- June 1978
It's late morning and we are cruising down the hot asphalt in our shiny and new black Chrysler LeBaron. Just the three of us.
Dad couldn't decide between a historic Jaguar and a new LeBaron, so he asked us for help. The minute the 10 year old me and my 7 year-old sister saw the tiny bulbs light up around the passenger's side make-up mirror we were sold on the LeBaron. It was done.
The air conditioning is cranked high when he grins and says what a chunk-o-chocolate and begins rolling down his window. Dad! What are you doing? we wail. He whistles at the robust woman walking along the side of the road. Dad! That's mean. Still grinning, he replies Noooooo, you don't understand. She never gets that. I made her smile. I made her day.
When we return home Dad says he's going out for a jog. I like the idea of joining him. I decide to take up jogging. I think it will suit me.
I tie my gym shoes tight, stand tall, and tell him I'm ready. My sister rolls her eyes. We head out the door, across the street, and onto a dust and gravel covered levee beside a canal (his track). It looks intimidating. It stretches straight ahead for what seems forever. I'm too hot already. The air feels thick. I don't say a word. I just smile up at Dad. I'm going.
I keep up with him. It's great. We run side by side for about one city block before I feel I am swallowing heat and dust. I don't want to give up, so I push a little further. I like being out with Dad, being his running pal. But I only make it a few more yards. I can't keep up. I tell him I'm turning around. Okay, be careful he says. I'm sure he's sad to see me go. I stop, put my hands on my little knees, bend over, gulp in some hot air, let out a big exhale, and head home with slumped shoulders.
Things were different back then. Farrah Fawcett was my idol. No one carried water bottles. Dad ran faster than me...at least it's what I've always believed. Maybe he just pushed really hard during the beginning of our run so he could break away from me and be alone, eventually slow down and jog at a leisurely pace. A little peace and quiet. All by himself. An escape from our demands. How long ago it was, close to thirty years. I wonder if he remembers.