Twilight Filters a Jogger’s View of the Tracks of Life
There are just a few of us here tonight, circling the old dirt track behind Fairfax High. It’s one of those languid evenings that didn’t cool down until about 8, just as the clouds were streaking pink.
We jog past the worn goal posts, past the noisy thumps of a fast-paced basketball game on the nearby court. Headlights sweep over us in staccato as cars zoom by the pudgy palms and lanky eucalyptus trees standing sentry on Fairfax Avenue. A bent-over bearded man wrapped in the dark attire of an Orthodox Jew shuffles past the small grocery and discount furniture stores, already shuttered for the night.
There are just a few of us here on this city track, but the field in the middle is alive, soccer players jousting by each other with shouts in Spanish and English. In the corner of the field, a young man wearing only denim shorts and a gold cross on a chain gently rolls a soccer ball to his barely walking son. “Aqui, Papi! Aqui!” the boy yells, toddling toward the ball.
In the evening stillness, snatches of urban slang drift over from the basketball court and blend with the quiet Russian murmurs of two elderly ladies strolling around the field. A couple leaves the tennis court, hand in hand. A man throws a ball for his beagle.
There are just a few of us running as twilight fades, just a few left to see the city’s peace shining through in this moment suspended between night and day, as if someone has pulled up a curtain and exposed us all together, easily moving side by side.
As I turn a bend, the bright lights from the tennis court catch my shadow, stretching it long and skinny across the soccer field, where it meets and mingles with the outlines of the players moving through the gray dusk.
A black-and-white soccer ball rolls toward me. “Hey Miss, over here!” comes a shout from a dim shape. I smile and, without losing stride, give it a sharp kick that sends it rushing back across the green carpet.
Darkness is draping over the violet-hued sky, and the signs on Fairfax Avenue jump out in neon. To the north, yellow lights shine through the thin veil of mist blanketing the Hollywood Hills.
There are just a few of us running as I pass the empty wooden bleachers facing the track. I imagine the benches full of cheering crowds, urging the joggers on as we circle the field at our disparate paces. I speed up and round the curve, racing. My breath comes ragged. My legs pound the ground below. I barrel past the starting point, willing to quit but pulled onward by the magic of this evening.
Screams of victory erupt.
I turn, but it’s the soccer players, tumbling together in a mess of high-fives and hugs after a goal. Laughter and whoops of delight spill off the field.
The game goes on and I head around for another lap, all of us holding onto the evening glow until the final arrival of night pushes us reluctantly home.