Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
I assumed my December 3rd post would be made tomorrow, but then the prompt was released at 9:00 p.m. (already tomorrow EST) and the minute I read it, I knew without a doubt what my moment was.
August 28, 2010 – shortly after 7:00 a.m. I am even lucky enough to be in possession of a photo that captures that moment, or at least one very near to it.
This was taken at just over the halfway point during my third Hood to Coast. Somewhere outside Jewell, OR, my five vanmates and I were having a rough go of it. I had just wrapped up our second set of legs, rolling into the St. Helens Fairground after an early morning, mostly uphill 4.15 miles. We had a break for a few hours and were a bit at odds with each other. I wanted to sleep. Others wanted to shower. Mostly there was a mix of unintelligible grumbling and hostile silence.
And then we stumbled on a magical place. Somewhere between two exchange points, a family had set up a couple of tents and a camper and was running a makeshift breakfast stand as a fundraiser for their church. They had free coffee. They had breakfast sandwiches and cups of blueberries. They had chairs. They had an area where they graciously let us spread our tarp and sleeping bags for a brief sleep. They had… a… fire pit. A FIRE PIT. I cannot possibly overstate how on-the-spot, head over heels in love I fell with this place.
It was early morning cold, despite the sun, and sitting around that fire with my hands wrapped around a warm cup of coffee was heaven. I remember that fire more clearly than any of the myriad others I have sat around in my life. It was so hot, but I was cold enough that it didn’t matter. I wolfed the food down so fast that I probably shouldn’t remember the taste, but I do. Or at least I remember that the minute it hit my belly things suddenly got very, very okay again. It didn’t matter that I had not slept in more hours than I cared to count. It didn’t matter that I still had 12 hours and 6.5ish miles ahead of me. What mattered was that I had food, coffee, warmth.
Slowly, we all started talking to each other again. And then even to a few of the strangers – other runners and the folks running the place – who were milling around. The conversations were almost exclusively about how fantastically amazing the fire, food and location were. Things had been touch and go for a bit, but I credit that experience with giving me renewed focus for the rest of the race. I was tired – nearly deliriously so – but also happily, deliriously alive.
I’d venture a guess that this guy felt pretty alive in this moment too. I think this picture captures the essence of what we all felt even better than my picture does.