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My Alma Mater

September 8, 2010

My legs knew the drill by heart.  Pushing the pedals in constant rhythm, working uphill with a steady gain.  Abdominal muscles chipped in, supporting the work with core strength.  I was slower, but I was doing it.  It used to be my daily grind, riding up the hill to UC Santa Cruz, part of my every morning routine.  That was thirty years ago, and despite the time passed, in many ways, I feel like that same girl. 

Working on my speech has brought up an array of memories.  Going back in time, chewing on what has brought me to this time, it has been fun and shocking.  Shocking in the sense that I can’t believe how long ago some of this stuff happened.  I needed to get out and do something, so that is how I found myself biking up to UC Santa Cruz to go for a run on the big track by the gym.  This was a regular pass time for me in college, I would ride up, go for a run and then hit the library or other such study location.  The track is right on the edge of a drop off and you can see all the way past Santa Cruz and out into the wide blue Pacific.  Despite the fact that fog was creeping in, the view was still gorgeous.

I was sweaty by the time I got there, perfectly warmed for a run.  The track, now covered with a spongy substance of some sort, used to be a dirt path that circled the great field.  I started around the track and I was flooded with layers of memories, papers I had written, thoughts I had when I was a young woman, the feelings of being full of promise, my life a blank slate before me waiting for paint. 

My slate has been painted repeatedly in the thirty years since I ran that track.  The layers so thick in places that the texture must more resemble a relief map with high mountains and sinking valleys.  I finished my run, did some exercises on the par course that was a new feature to me, and then unlocked my bike for the ride home.  Deer had wandered onto the field and a huge bird of prey circled over the browned hillsides.  Zipping down into town, I was so glad that I had grabbed my Patagonia puff jacket at the last second.  Down High Street, over to the San Lorenzo levy, up to the trestle and past the Harbor I rode, my mind full of thought, mostly about how lucky I am that I can still do this kind of thing, that my body has remained strong, that my mind is open to still trying and that this wonderful world outside our doors is ripe with gifts for anyone to partake in.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Dee permalink
    September 8, 2010 4:13 am

    Wow! That brought back memories for me! I used to ride to school up there too. And continued to ride that hill almost daily (unless I went on a longer ride….)up until about 5 years ago. At one point a few years ago I was having fun seeing how fast I could come down the bike path thru the middle of the campus….I was satisfied the morning I hit 50 mph….grin.

  2. September 8, 2010 4:17 am

    You wild woman Dee. No wonder you ride a horse. I wonder if we were riding at the same time, perhaps passing each other in opposite directions. As you can see, I am trying to get my thrills during my horseless period. I will start looking for my next partner soon, almost ready….

  3. Marvin Tennefoss permalink
    September 8, 2010 7:10 pm

    Julie, you just keep getting better at making the mundane fabulous! Can hardly wait for your October book presentations in the Tar Hill state, home to the 75 year old Blue Ridge Parkwayy placed with panoramic views of the oldest and most colorful mountains in the Western Hemisphere. Also, the fabulous Biltmore House!

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