My mind keeps trying to fast forward to what I’ll be doing an hour from now. I have to keep pulling it back into the present. Refocus. Refocus. Refocus.
No matter all the things I think, all the things I consider, life continues to be what it is. The conundrum that began at my birth. I’m a little bit befuddled, perplexed, confused by a recent event. Well, actually not terribly recent, but still. It only happened 20 years ago. It was track season of my junior year of high school. I had asked a fellow runner to prom. I think I had asked in a written question but cut into pieces and enveloped. The junior-senior prom was approaching. I had asked about a week and a half in advance. Monday came. Tuesday came and went. Wednesday came and went. I kept thinking I would get a response, but maybe it was just a ‘No.’ Thursday was district track meet. There were heats and field and longest distance events. So I competed in my 3200. I didn’t really look at anybody when I ran. I took the lead on the first lap, led the whole race, and finished strong. To my chagrin and embarrassment, the gal waited until the announcing of race results to say, Yes, she would go to prom with me! The announcer boomed, “And the winner of the 3200 is Daniel Peterson, and by the way, ‘Kristy’ (name change) says , yes, she will go to prom with you!” Well-played, I thought to myself.
I suppose life gives small moments of redemption in the midst of the rough, lonely, and absurd. Previously, at the state cross-country finals in the wooded, greener northern part of the state, a psychology visualization exercise seemed to have a reverse effect on my mind. I was supposed to run better than I did. The course opened on a 120 yard grass straight, strict turn to the right, 3 1/2 foot wide walkway, followed by a steep climb whose narrow path made passing attempts impossible. Steep down-hill and flat into the finish. I got stuck in the back of the mass at the start, tried to thread my way in the midst of the path section, but too narrow and just too many runners going slower than my pace. By the time I hit the climb, I was just dawdling behind other runners. Although I think and thought my performance was horrendous, a 54th place and POINTS. 5th runner. Final points. The other four were seniors, looking to make their final hurrah and finish strong. But I added a few too many points for that. Still, there is a silver lining. Those seniors were a clique. They never let any of the underclassman run WITH them at all in practice. They would saunter off other ways should any of us go towards to join. So the fact the I SPOILED their plans because there weren’t FIVE of THEM for points turned out nice, a little revenge. Also, the following spring their top runner ended up beating me by half-yard in the finish of the 1600 of the track meet district. Two spots classified for state. I nearly had the one-spot secured, but lost it, narrowly. Nevertheless, the buddy of the clique group was kept out. Another fine point of redemption for right.
Ah, the stupid games we play as we rival and punish and never work as a team! A rival from another school but friendly to me explained how in his sophomore year (he was my age) he was able to keep out one from that clique from state, just narrowly slicing in front at the finish in the 3200 for the 2-spot! I congratulated him heartily. He wasn’t even going to run at state for heart problems, but he still kept my nemesis out!
In line with wanting good things for oneself, a balance must exist where good is got and achieved by obeying certain rules or standards. Play to stay, as it were. When the rules are broken, pride, egos, entering, measures must be made to restore balance. Life must be just. Life must be fair. Cheaters must not prosper. Liars and thieves must not come out on top. Good must triumph. Right must win, no matter the costs incurred down below.
The girl I asked to prom went with me in a trim light yellow dress. We talked a lot, more than I was accustomed to talking to another person. A big group. Shared food. Activities in the park. A little Frisbee. And of course, dancing. Common ground, I suppose. We were team leaders the following spring as seniors in cross-country. I suppose it was a nice gesture to dance away the night and feel more like a team heading into a new year. I saw her years later at the party after her younger sister’s marriage. Some say friends are to be had in the moment and others gained as time marches, old ones lost. But I feel different. Friends should be forever, although forever may only be a lifetime. Still, the conundrum, confusion, and puzzle continues of WHAT REALLY IS A FRIEND?