What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mile 2000 gathers slowly like a quiet storm.
For weeks, I spy it brewing on the horizon. The miles on my Fitbit roll forward. When will I hit it? What will I do when I get there? A 2000th mile is something I never thought to consider!
But there's no time to dwell. Summer is ending, and I'm rushing around trying to tie up its loose ends.... new jobs, day trips, dinner with friends....
In the midst of it all, my friend Matt makes a most courageous return to college!
And then one morning, the sky breaks. I wake up at Mile 1996.75. Today is the day. The storm is here.
But it's just me. On a Thursday. With 3 1/4 miles to go.
I haven't piled sandbags or battened down hatches. I haven't organized a celebratory event. I haven't gathered friends or family. I haven't fortified myself with a PT on a motorcycle.
I walk anyway.
Right off, I bang out 2 miles on the treadmill. But I'm restless and giddy at the gym. My stomach stirs like thunder, and my steps are lightning quick. With one more mile to conquer, I leave Magee for parts unknown. (Well, not really... but it does feel that way!)
I follow the bike lane.
At the corner of Washington Avenue sits the firehouse. The one that sent Tanya to my rescue. I pause for a moment with respect and thanks.
Then the light turns green, so I step swiftly off the curb. When I reach the opposite side of the street, there are still 8 seconds left on the blinking walk signal. Eight seconds! Things really have changed!
One step after another, less than a half-mile to go.
My feelings from THEN get all mixed up with my feelings from NOW.
Finally, I arrive at the intersection where this story began. This is it. Mile Marker 2000.
I breathe in. Take a look around. The new condos on the corner are finished, complete with chairs on each balcony. The crosswalk is empty. The footprint we painted at Mile 1000 has long since washed away.
There's no sign of what happened here.
Traffic passes unaware. A trash truck roars by, painted red and yellow with a mosaic of fall leaves.
I don't come here often, but when I do, I think about my old life. This is where I feel closest to my leg. Where I remember the things I left behind.
So much has happened in 2000 miles.
It may sound silly, but today as I stare out at the blacktop, there's this inner dialogue where I tell my leg how much things have changed. How much I've changed. There's so much I want to share...
I wish you could meet the people who've inspired and challenged me, those who've walked with me along the way. I wish you could see my whole new world and where this journey has taken me.
I wish you could feel every step I've traveled on my NEW leg.
I guess, in any journey, these thoughts are par for the course. There are things we leave behind and things we take with us.
All that materializes is a storm cloud overhead.
So I leave the shells on the sidewalk and take one more step. Then another and another. When I look back, the intersection is still there.
But so is where I'm going.
As I walk away, I wonder why today of all days -- at such an important milestone -- this place didn't "give me" anything. A souvenir. A signal. A new memory to add to my old ones. Something to take with me.
A few tears start to well up. Through them, I spot something shiny on the sidewalk.
A penny. Heads up.
In that flash of copper, I see 2000 miles that never, ever would have happened if so many forces hadn't come together at exactly the right place and time. The firehouse, the trauma center, and the PT gym. Hiking trails, boardwalks, and bike paths. Family, friends, and fellow travelers who've kept me marching on.
A storm so perfect and powerful it grows new life with each step.
If that's not a takeaway, I don't know what is.
On toward 3000.