Today’s #Reverb10 prompt was one I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull off, but I did:
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
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I stepped out of the hotel, supposedly ready to face the challenge of running in a city that, while familiar, still felt slightly foreign that morning.
The chill that hit my exposed legs made me realize how much I wasn’t ready for what was about to transpire.
I turned right and made my way to the corner, eventually heading into the wind and facing south. I was across the street from a fairly fiesty Lake Michigan that morning. I was a couple of hours away from starting the trip back to Birmingham after attending the first ever Block by Block Community News Summit (and completing my sixth trip to Chicago, IL in six years – the previous one this year was a lot of fun too). It could be a sign, but I’m not quite sure.
Considering the stifling heat that was blanketing greater Birmingham back in September, I’d looked forward to being able to justify wearing a sweater while in town. Today, it was some loose-fitting black shorts and a white “It’s Nice to Have You in Birmingham” t-shirt.
The night before a brutal storm swept in and knocked power out in several sections of the city while I slept soundly amid the feathers in the hotel room reflecting on the lessons learned from my fellow community news publishers.
I’d just been to the opening of Birmingham’s Railroad Park a week earlier and had enjoyed celebrating the formal opening of Ruffner Mountain‘s new treetop visitors center earlier in the year. It gave me some hope that I’d be getting a chance to live what I’d imagined just a little over a year before for the Community Foundation.
Every time I get a chance to walk the outer perimeter what’s been called Jones Valley’s newest living room, my mind begins to drift and imagine what the industrial jungle that currently surrounds it will be transformed into.
I feel most alive when I have the chance to imagine how I can contribute to this ever-changing canvas – a true urban environment that’s not shaped by idealism shown in televsision studio coffee houses but in the everyday visits to corner stores; in the every day battles of groups of individuals fighting for what they believe their communities should be like.
I’ve placed one foot in front of the other attempting to recapture the drive and rhythm in my strides that used to let me run off frustration and stress. Every once in a while I can carry the cell phone and use one of the apps to listen to the latest traffic and weather in NYC, imagining that I’m trudging along the Hudson River through Battery Park City. I’m not necessarily wishing that I’m there but always mentally comparing it to places like Fell’s Point in Baltimore and Pike Place in Seattle; wondering what’s worked, what hasn’t and what’s unique to Birmingham, AL.
This trip to Chicago finally let me add one more to the list – The Lakeshore Trail.
The breeze just seemed to help push me along the lake as it crashed waves against the shore, chasing runners and walkers from the paths they hoped to keep that day. Realize that as the wind whipped up this mischief that the sky above was one of the most briliant shades of blue. I’d spent part of the day before hanging out in a park alongside the trail.
There were families exploring Chicago for the first time, not quite bundled up but definitely not ready for the change in temperature from the day before. The activity taking place along the waterfront was enough to make the journey more important than the destination.
Landscapers planting violet and yellow pansies alongside rust colored mums while visitors explored Navy Pier (which the night before I’d admired from inside of the city’s monument to journalism, The Tribune Tower, as it enjoyed a bath of moonlight).
As I approached my midway point of my run, I stumbled across a wave of pink as the Chicagoland Race for the Cure overtook the streets with survivors and supporters wearing their stories of hope and conquering for all to see. I only wished I could have run along with them for a while to learn from them.
How can you not feel alive when you have so much life around you? How can you hide from the hustle and bustle of the city when there are opportunities like these possible around every corner?
Coming up from the underground tunnel giving the Windy City’s citizens access to this urban oasis, I was extremely happy that some moments like these are best enjoyed without plans to capture them with photos, but as memories which can be held onto for as long as your heart desires…