I'm on a group run, my first run since the Run to Remember. Another runner and I fall in line together. We don't introduce ourselves and we don't exchange a word, but we pace each other for the five miles. He picks up speed; so do I. I pick up speed; so does he. It's humid and the sky is heavy with clouds. But it's a beautiful run. It's one of those runs when I tell my legs to go faster and they do.
I finish the run, stretch, and shake out my legs. I turn around and run home. It's only when I'm home that I realize that my sneakers have been rubbing against the backs of my heels. My socks are soaked in blood.
I'm at the Capitol Coffee House, seated at the high bar that wraps around the coffee shop. I look out the windows and down Bowdoin Street, down the sloping street that runs past blocks of Beacon Hill townhouses, down to Cambridge Street. The windows over my left shoulder frame the side of the Statehouse -- all green shrubs and birds chirping. But I like my perch in this window. I like my view and my $1.60 iced coffee.
The restaurant-grade refrigerators hum behind me; there's a little conversation, coins clinking, something sizzling in a saucepan. The fry cook beats eggs in a plastic bowl. I sneeze -- once, twice, three times -- and a chorus of "Bless you!" comes up from every corner of the coffee shop.
I pull the lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and flank steak out of the fridge. I heat my grill pan and get a nice sear on both sides of the steak, while the water comes to a boil in a saucepan and the new potatoes begin to cook. The steak goes in the oven at 300 degrees to finish.
I move around my kitchen, without even thinking. My knives are here; my plates are stacked here. I methodically slice the cherry tomatoes and the tender new potatoes. I layer the lettuce, tomatoes, and steak on a plate. But the potatoes need a final touch. I grill the sliced potatoes; they go on top of the salad; I squeeze half a lemon and drizzle olive oil over the whole thing.