I went out for a run around my neighborhood the other day. (Something I haven’t been doing as much as I should, but that’s another story.)
There are a few things I don’t like about running the streets in my neighborhood, like the hills, for example. But one of the things I do like is saying hello to my neighbors.
Neighborhoods are interesting in Cincinnati because there are a lot of them, and they seem to be very close together. I can go through Mount Airy, College Hill, White Oak, and Monfort Heights on a single three mile run. Each neighborhood feels subtly different, and the people you meet on the sidewalks seem to fit in their respective neighborhoods.
But sometimes, being a 63 year old white guy, I don’t.
I have made it a habit to greet every single person I meet while I’m out on a run. It may be a small thing but I feel like it’s a little move in the right direction. I do my best to make eye contact, which isn’t always easy. It’s interesting to me how we do that. We walk right past someone and act like we don’t even see them. Why do we do that?
Anyway, the other day as I was heading down the sidewalk in the picture above. It was January, so it wasn’t that green. I saw that I was coming up behind some kids. There was what appeared to be the oldest sister with a dog leash in one hand and her smartphone in the other, a younger sister walking close to her, and an even younger brother who seemed to have some excess energy.
It’s always tricky when I approach someone from behind while I’m running. No matter what I do, it always seems to startle them. This time I decided to move off the sidewalk and into the street until I got around them. Sure enough, they were startled when I came alongside, but the little boy said, “I’m gonna run, too!”
I laughed and said, “You can probably blow me away!”
Sure enough, he did.
For about 50 yards.
He stopped with his hands on his knees and breathing hard. But when I caught up to him he fell in beside me. I asked his name. I’m pretty sure he said it was Denarii. I’m not sure of the spelling but he pronounced it De-NAIR-ee-eye. I think he was about seven or eight years old. He asked my name and I told him. We chatted as we jogged until we got to the next cross street and his sister told him to “Get back here!”
I don’t know why I felt like telling about this, but it made an impression on me.
An eight year old black kid and a 63 year old white man jogging together.
Not something you see every day.
It made me smile, and “I like smiling. Smiling’s my favorite!”
I believe there’s hope for our future.
I don’t believe it comes from Washington.
It comes from me and my neighbors, and you and your neighbors, building little bridges.
That’s why I like running in my neighborhood.