The problem with living in your old hometown

The weather in St. Louis is something else. In the last week alone, we’ve had a tornado warning that sent me fleeing to the basement, a flash flood that knocked over our recycling bin, and temps hotter than tickets to the Stanley Cup final (let’s go Blues!). After more than a decade of living in more temperate climes, I’m struggling to adjust. But I can also be endlessly stubborn – just ask Colin – so on one of those hotter-than-Hades days last week I pulled out my running shoes and pointed myself towards Forest Park.

Forest Park is only two miles from where I live, and Colin and I were routinely running between four and six miles in Paris, so I really should have been able to manage the distance. But that was Paris, beautiful City of Light and Good Climate. And this is St. Louis, in the Show-Me State, which I’m pretty sure was named because if you want to live here, you’re first going to have to show me you can hack it.

(Spoiler alert: I’m not sure I can hack it.)

About one mile into my run, I was soaked in sweat and struggling to breathe through the humidity. At two miles, I gave up, turned around, and started walking back. For the rest of my return trip, I alternated walking and running, trying not to die.

During one running interval, I passed a man walking the other direction on the sidewalk. I tried to smile in the spirit of being Midwest Nice, but I was so hot and uncomfortable that I mostly just ignored him. As I ran past, though, he called out with a hearty “Hi!!!” that was horrifyingly familiar.

He was the father of a classmate and the coach of one of my high school teams. He’d recognized me. And I was drenched in sweat and grimacing.

So much for keeping up appearances.

Forest Park, on a day when I didn’t try to run there.

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