A Long Walk With Friends

We met early on the first morning of daylight savings time. A February chill lingered in the March air, and the wind from the west was well on its way.

We gathered in a group for a photo at the starting line sculpture, then separated into masked pods of social distance as we began our adventure. We crossed the engineered artwork formerly known as the Tappan Zee bridge, stopping along the way to admire each of the themed belvederes: Fish and Ships, Painter’s Point, River Crossing, Half Moon, Tides of Tarrytown, and Palisades.

There were conversations about everything and nothing, at a volume almost too low to be heard over the passing cars. There were moments of silence and awe at the sunlight and shadows, the water, the quickly warming temperature.

I didn’t feel like I was moving downhill, but the contorted faces and jerking movements of the oncoming bicyclists told me otherwise. Each pod moved at its own pace, until the coming together on the other side for a brief rest, a stretch, and another photo by another sculpture.

We turned to cross back over the river, knowing we would be walking uphill for a while. I became aware of a strong and steady wind pressing against the front of my body, causing me to exert some extra energy. This was the very same wind that had just propelled me for 3.5 miles, yet I hadn’t noticed it at all.

We arrived back where we started, ready to begin the second leg. We picked up some late-comers, before our walk through Nyack, and down to the park with the pier, where some of us felt much colder than others. Some of us broke away to grab food. Some of us broke away for the day.

When we moved toward the rail trail, for the third and final leg, I felt as if I might hit a wall. But the surface changed from concrete to dirt, and my energy returned. I hadn’t noticed just how hard and unforgiving the concrete was, until I felt the soft, kind, giving earth beneath my feet. My knees were thankful.

As we moved farther down the trail, the sounds of traffic on the bridge morphed into birdsong and breeze, soft footfalls and second winds. The last mile was probably the fastest mile. Every large daunting task seems smaller and simpler when the end is clearly in sight.

We each arrived at our own end, without festival or fanfare. A brief moment of pride for a personal goal achieved. After a very long year, a very long walk with friends. Nothing more. So much more.

So grateful for all of the folks who walk through this life with me.

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