The bike path starts at the edge of my old neighborhood, it begins at the sidewalk and winds all the way through to the other side of town where it ends by Granada High. I have taken this path countless times. As a child this path would take me to many adventures! Then later in life I would ride my bike to Spanish class far, far across town. As an adult it was great for casual walks with a child in a stroller.
Today the bike path served as a tour through many memories.
It’s a hot day, in the high 90’s, the although it’s hot, I really want to go for a run on the bike path. It’s been over 20+ years since I have traveled the whole path from start to finish. As I head out, it’s almost instant … like traveling back in time, I am a kid again and so many of the same sights, sounds, smells and feelings are waiting for me. The warmth of the sun feels like an embrace, my footfalls sound familiar against the blacktop crunching the leaves and twigs, and the smell, the smell is distinctly my town. It’s eucalyptus and sycamore trees mixed with vineyards and a hint of licorice. Also, maybe a little bit of the rodeo grounds and farmland. It’s a 7 mile round trip and it proved to be an experience I won’t forget.
I remember when I was a kid that I spent a lot of time outside playing with my friends. I was fortunate to grow up on in a court which was on a street that had two other courts, each one full of kids close to my age. We used to play newspaper tag, around 20 of us, and these were epic games involving brilliant strategies and sneaky routes that took us from one back yard to another to cross into other courts. When the sun set, we would change things up and the game would be flashlight tag. The evening fun would end when someone’s mom yelled at us to go home.
The sun is beginning to cause me to sweat as my pace quickens and I traverse a few hills. My breathing increases but it’s not just the run or the heat, it’s a physical reaction that occurs when a really good memory is vivid. It really is like being in the moment so long ago, for just a fraction time. I am not sure if it’s a longing as well, and I am not sure what the longing would be for. To travel back in time and live the moments over again, knowing what I know now so that I can harvest everything possible from it? Maybe?
Near our house was what we referred to as “the pits”. As you may have guessed, these were two huge and very deep pits that were full of vegetation and a creek. You could wander for hours in them and still not experience all the adventure that that lay in wait. Often times we would head past the pits and follow the creek for a few miles and end up near the rodeo grounds where there was a junkyard. Hop the fence and there was usually a fresh supply of old TV’s just begging to be broken, which we were happy to oblige with our wrist rockets or just a good old fashioned river rocks. On the opposite side of our neighborhood was a really great park that had open fields that we would use to play baseball. The baseball games were the highlight of my summers. Between us all, we had all the equipment we needed to play a “real game”. When we got tired of that we would jump on our bikes and ride all around the neighborhood, using the “brick walls” to travel from one end to the other, and if we felt like putting in the effort, we might ride a few miles to the bike jumps and spend hours winding through the maze of trails and jumps that were frequently used by bikes and dirt bikes. Summers also involved running a lemonade stand to earn money to swim at the “lab” pool which was at the end the main street by our house, that or May Nissen pool, across town, but that required a ride from parents and was less likely.
The sights and sounds are so very intense, and my run is now at the point that all my runs get to, that point when the run feels good. For me it takes 2-3 miles to get there before breathing, muscles and movement, and rhythm are all locked in the run is enjoyable. It crosses my mind that I have so much to be thankful for. These memories I have, I did nothing to make them possible. I did not forge a good childhood, I did not deserve a good home life. I was blessed and that’s it. My mom was incredible, she made it so that when I set out each day to do whatever I would do, returning home to my family was my brightest thought. Not everyone has that.
I took this past week off to get some much needed downtime. I spent my time at my parent’s house with my kids. Though a lot about my hometown has changed, some of it has remained the same. There are pockets here and there that take me from 2020 and back to the 1980’s. The pits are all but gone, giving way to development. The park has been revamped and a lot of the land has modulars on it now. The neighborhood is much like other neighborhoods in this area, very few kids are out on bikes and playing hard. These are different times for a lot of different reasons. My dad grew up here as well and has passed a lot of stories about this town and his childhood on to me. I find myself doing the same with my kids, trying to paint for them a picture of what it used to be like to be a kid in this town, in this neighborhood.
My run ended back at my parents house where I was happy to collapse on a couch and impatiently wait for my eyes to adjust to the lack of light. The run I had just taken on the Bike Path was an unexpected treat that I enjoyed every moment of. I hope I can do it again soon.