Contributor: Kern Carter
I never jog on the main road. Strictly the back streets. If it’s not scorching hot I’ll have my hoodie on both drawstrings pulled tight, or at least a cap pulled down as far as possible. Not sure what it is, but I don’t want anyone to know it’s me.
Sounds odd, I’m sure. Especially since 99.9% of the front and backyards I jog past have no idea who I am. At least I don’t think they do. But that doesn’t stop me from pretending they aren’t still judging. Wondering what this tall black guy is doing jogging on the sidewalk.
I hate that feeling. That feeling of people watching me. I watched Fantastic Four last night and envy that girl who can make herself invisible on command. That would for sure be my superpower, just so that I can jog free from peering eyeballs.
But the backstreets make it bearable. It cuts down on the number of cars I have turning their heads as they drive by. It takes away the people walking for a coffee, or for lunch, or to get to the subway or streetcar.
I’m more comfortable in the backstreets. The occasional “hi” to a passerby doesn’t bother me as much. I can think. I can be me. I can go as fast or slow as I want. There’s no one there expecting any more or less, expecting me to run faster, or longer, or telling me to pick my feet up when I stride.
That main road is scary. Too much of everything but not enough of what I want. When I’m coming down to the end of my jog, though, I like to walk. Maybe the last five minutes or so. It’s only then that I’ll step onto the main roads. Sweating, panting, my hoodie halfway off my head or my hat lifted up enough to tell who I am.
I’m more comfortable now. The work is complete. The eyes don’t bother me as much. I don’t even notice the cars anymore and I half smile at every other walker. By the time I get back home, everything’s good again. I love jogging.
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