Click. I flick my music on shuffle without a second thought and with Amy Winehouse crooning in my ear I slide softly into my pace,
Well sometimes I go out by myself, and I look across the water…
Cross 13th Street, then 14th, onto Park, finally whipping around the corner to start making my way up 16th Street. The song ends and a brief silence follows. I hear my footsteps smacking the pavement and ease my stride. A few steps later a beat picks up- it’s Fabolous and he tells me:
Girl, you be killin’ em.
I smile. Yeah, Fabo, I know. Several blocks later Fabolous fades out and in fades a playful Keri Hilson rhythm. I resist the urge to pump my fist like you go, girl. I dash over the bridge at Piney Branch Parkway pumping my arms,
Do the pretty girl rock, rock, rock.
I’m settling into a solid groove; quick feet, swift steps. I’m headed up 16th Street at a steady clip. I come up on two miles when it occurs to me that my iPhone, still humming away on shuffle, has not made a poor choice yet. With every song that ends, a lively pop anthem or powerful beat follows. Each song, randomly selected out of hundreds, proves energizing and restorative. I power past the Buddhist temple, the Chinese church, past the soccer fields at Carter Barron. I’ve crossed Arkansas and Colorado, I leap across the crosswalks at Military Road. And each time my earbuds go silent and I brace myself to at last skip through the next song, I am lifted higher still into a state of heightened excitement.
Aw, shit, get your towels ready, it’s about to go down!
I’m on a boat, motherfuckers!
I don’t dare to count the songs or keep track of my streak for fear of tampering with my iPod’s good will. I soar past the Rock Creek golf course. At Aspen Street I dart off 16th, down a winding and suddenly wooded road. The sidewalk turns to gravel, the gravel into dirt and pebbles. I take the turns wide and peer around the corners for cars. There is no one but me and now the boys of Madcon,
Beggin’, beggin’ you (put your loving hands out baby)
And I am begging the gods of iTunes to humor me just a little bit longer.
I’m begging you for mercy, why won’t you release me?
I see a trail marker up ahead and veer off-road, I hurdle a fallen tree with the ladies of Girls Aloud.
Jump! for my love…
Rock Creek Park has swallowed me, Matt & Kim whole.
Now this is all me, now this is all me…
Without a soul or a car in sight Modest Mouse and I forge on south along the Valley Trail.
Alright, already, we all float on.
Suddenly there is pavement beneath my feet as I’ve emerged from the trail onto Beach Drive. I dart across the highway, dodging cars speeding towards downtown, to pick up Rock Creek Trail.
Sigilosa al pasar… mirala camminar, camminar.
I have left my inhibitions far behind. I’m sure of it now: my iPhone knows me. It understands me. We are united in an ecstatic and unshakeable bond.
Still miles away from home I am riding this shuffle out; I jam my earbuds deeper into my ears. And just as I round a corner to pick up the Western Ridge Trail that will take me home, just when I didn’t think this run could sound any sweeter-
Got me looking so crazy right now…
Beyonce, Sweet Bey, floods my eardrums.
Your love’s got me looking so crazy right now…
In absolute ecstasy I fly- no, soar- down the trail with the Queen herself, and though I am most definitely running, swift and uninterrupted, my veins are pulsing like I am shaking my hips right alongside her.
Your touch got me looking so crazy right now…
Before I hit the zoo I dash across the parkway, and Bey and I shake it up Kenyon Street. Nine miles out and yet so close to where I started. I summit the sharp hill with a final push, a great oomph, practically tumbling onto Mt. Pleasant Street.
Looking so crazy in love…
Just five blocks to go and my legs are jelly, my knees giving out, but I hammer out those final strides.
Got me looking, got me looking so crazy in love….
Outside my house I collapse onto the front stoop and, at long last, tear my iPhone from my armband. I gaze down at the little device, impressed it’s enormous feat of selecting from a two thousand song library the forty some-odd songs I needed to hear. Of weeding through the audiobook chapters, the broadway soundtracks, the Paul Simon, and miraculously landing on the Amy, the Patti, the Beyonce.
Panting, I slide my keys off my shoelaces and, know the time has come, yank my headphones out from my ears. The screen illuminates and I am staring at a playlist I created months ago, a forgotten 40-track set entitled “Running” that I selected, unknowingly, over ninety minutes ago.
Click. I am back on the ground.
With a shrug I shove my phone under my arm, heave myself back to my feet, and fumble with my keys. Back in the reality where electronics can’t read minds, I’m thirsty and sweaty and sore. I’m disappointed but also a little pleased that I managed to fool myself into believing my phone was capable of magic.
I guess it’s not that hard to believe that I could fall for my own trick. I guess sometimes we create our own magic.