When I first moved to Salt Lake City, I chose the place I wanted to live based on very little to do with the apartment itself. The reasoning behind why I rented this particular apartment (which I chose using Google maps – honestly) had much to do with its location–being right across the street from a park with a 1.5-mile running oval. I have sung the praises of Liberty Park’s ease of access and mostly traffic-free running trails to my friends and fellow runners all the time. It is simply wonderful.
When I had a more conventional 9-5 job, I would get up around 7am and go for a 3.75-mile run to wake myself up. I despise morning running. I have no idea how on race day I am even able to get up for the race itself. However, every morning I went for a run here at Liberty Park, I was almost always destined to be happy in some small way. I would get to see Henry.
Then, my life changed and my routine changed and I rarely run at that hour anymore. As such, it is times like today, when I randomly see Henry, that really make me happy. I mentioned over three years ago in a blog posting how I wanted to get to know Henry more. Unfortunately, I have failed to do so. I did once stop and talk to him but I almost felt like I was bothering him, in spite of his genial nature. He was there to get in his exercise, not be hindered by some little whippersnapper. I do know Henry is every bit of 80-years-old and is exercising at Liberty Park, I am guessing, every single day. I once caught his last name (since forgotten) and a little of his story. But since we run (well, he does a fast walk, in all honesty) in different directions, I usually get nothing more than a big smile, a quick wave and both an ironic yet not at all self-aware comment about how he is glad to see I am still out here running. I cannot even begin to tell you how much this makes me chuckle.
I almost do not want to know more about Henry than I already do. I want to keep him as this icon of what I hope to be someday: happy, much older, and healthy. Will getting to know him better ruin the wonderful semi-relationship I have with Henry? Will that take away some of the allure? I guess I see in Henry what I wish my own father could have–namely, the ability to walk. Unfortunately, that has been taken away from my own Dad. I wonder if seeing Henry as a symbol of someone else and not just himself is a little rude.