Morning Runs

Georgina’s apartment was about three blocks from the park. The custom was to wake up at six o’clock in the morning, when it was still a little dark, to prepare that black coffee — which she was not sure whether it was bad or not — to drink it and go down. In the elevator, which was a little old and therefore a little slow, Georgina would say “I was told it would be better to eat bananas before exercising (…), because of the potassium.” However, bananas were not her cup of tea and even the smell made her repulsed.

Georgina had never been athletic, but lately, those excess fats were causing her distress. The park that was part of New York’s daily life was Central Park. Perhaps the most famous park in the world and also the most crowded. However, Central Park keeps a secret: it is huge. Its greatness prevents us from seeing it as a place full of people. So Georgina could exercise without having to dodge tourists.

“A park is a healthier place than a gym,” Chin, a 76-year-old Korean lady, commented to Georgina.

They met without making appointments. Georgina set foot on Park Avenue at exactly seven in the morning and must have been the same time that Chin also walked down that avenue toward the monument to William Tecumseh, at the east entrance of the park — that was where they met.

“Why do you say that, Chin? I don’t know if it’s a healthier place, but it’s definitely a cheaper on. In a YMCA I would spend about 50 dollars a month, easily.”

“I think it’s healthier because we don’t come into contact with other people’s sweat and bacteria. Who knows if people who work in gyms clean those things where everyone sits. My granddaughter is always complaining, she takes her own cloth and alcohol gel.”

“You are right! Disgusting!”

Running and talking often took Georgina’s breath away. Chin handled it very elegantly, she almost never coughed. “Her diaphragm is more trained than mine,” Georgina thought.

Georgina was 37 years old. In this world, the 30 were the new 20 and so on. So Georgina was 27.

Besides her body complaints, the morning run had another reason. She was stressed with work, not in the mood to meet friends, and wanting to stay at home watching TV. Not even the books satisfied her anymore. “Any physical exercise will do you good,” was the psychologist’s suggestion. Georgina listened and accepted.

Chin was a lady with an excellent chat. Her family had stayed in North Korea. She had escaped with the help of a South Korean friend. She did not miss her old country, only the brothers and nephews she had never seen or heard from again. The United States welcomed her, and Chin had a family there, married, worked, had children, retired, had grandchildren and today lived a comfortable life in Manhattan.

Chin’s story inspired Georgina. For although she had a suffering youth, the bad things that the world showed her did not prevent her from seeking the best and having hope. “From the lemons, she made lemonade,” Georgina thought and admitted that the phrase, although cliché, was a summary of Chin’s life.

Those mornings with those morning runs and, especially, with Chin’s company had given Georgina another meaning in life. Discouragement passed and even books became part of her life again. Some, even, as indicated by Chin.



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