I couldn’t fall asleep last night. I had a million thoughts running through my head and I was so afraid that I wasn’t going to hear my alarm. I guess I secretly was hoping that it would magically be 6:00 a.m. and I would walk outside and begin my walk. But as luck would have it, the Sandman came to visit me at 2:00 a.m. and I drifted towards my bedroom to get a little bit of rest before BEAST mode officially would begin.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! The sound of my alarm never sounded less enticing than it did at that very moment. I opened one eye and noticed it was still dark in my room. What was I thinking? Why did I say I would get up at this hour and begin walking? Wait, was someone going to be outside making sure that I really got up to begin my walk on time? Paranoia, my friends, is a terrible thing. Then I suddenly remembered that I had to get Azcal to school and I was afraid that I would not be back from my walk on time in order to shower, get her ready, and walk her to school. So I compromised: I would get her off to school and begin my walk then. Deal? Deal!
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! The sound of my alarm didn’t sound any more enticing at 7:00 a.m. than it did at 6:00 a.m., but a deal is a deal. I woke up and brushed my grill, woke up Azcal and got her ready to go to school, and laced up my Puma indoor soccer shoes to hit the pavement. The irony of this situation can be found in that I was using indoor soccer shoes to walk outdoors and that I wore Pumas when I in no way felt like one! The best part of getting ready was pulling my BEAST Athletics hoodie out of the closet and slipping it over my head. Not that it was going to give me any super powers. Not that it had a cape attached that would help me along my walk. Not that anyone would even know that I was starting BEAST mode by wearing this hoodie…but I knew. Somehow, this was enough for me to put one foot in front of the other.
When we walked outside together, I asked Azcal to take a picture of me. She chuckled a little and reminded me that I was usually the one taking pictures of me. I told her that I needed a “start” picture as I begin my journey towards this 10k. I explained to her about my public acceptance of the challenge. I gave her names of people who are standing behind me and of those who will walk/run beside me. She never said a word. She stayed quiet, focusing on the road to her school. We heard a honk and looked up; it was her teacher hanging out the window of her car waving at us with the most inviting smile on her face. We love, love, love Azcal’s first grade teacher. This sighting threw us off and we began talking about other things.
When we arrived to Azcal’s school her teacher told me how happy she was to see me walking Azcal to school. I thanked her and Azcal said, “My mom walked me today because she is a beast.” I died. WHAT DID SHE JUST SAY????? The teacher looked at me and asked, “Oh, one of those mornings?” I died a second time. I then proceeded to explain to her that it was day 1 of BEAST mode (which should in no way be interpreted as me being a beast, please). I gave Mrs. Martinez a quick rundown of “the thing” that has begun and the name of our team. She didn’t laugh. She didn’t seem skeptical or cynical. She did, however, express interest in JOINING THE TEAM! She said that she has been looking for something like this to do and would love the information so she can consider joining us. Halleluja! I knew I was off to a good start!
I begin to walk away from Azcal’s school on my mission. It was 7:32 a.m. I walked the opposite way of home because my neighborhood is completely foreign to me although we have been here for almost a year. I had never been on that side of the neighborhood and that made the walk very interesting.
There are a lot of walkers in my neighborhood in the morning. Each time I walked past someone, I would say “good morning” and I would get one back. I felt like I was already accepted as a “walker” because people were so friendly. Then I encountered a runner. I straightened up, walked a little faster, and began to smile as we were approaching each other. I was about to say something to her when I noticed she had ear buds in as she swooshed by me, leaving me behind in her dust. Rude. I wonder if she knew it was day 1 for me. I wonder if anyone said hello to her on her day 1. I wanted to catch up to her to tell her, “Hey, it’s my day 1. Throw me a bone or something!” Then I laughed loudly at myself for even thinking that my journey would be important to her. She was on her own journey and I feel that our paths will cross again someday.
I felt like I had walked for three days when I take out my cell phone to see what time it was. My phone said 7:59. No way! I was walking fast (for me) and sweating like I was wearing Saran Wrap when in fact I was wearing cotton and had only walked for half an hour. It was then that I looked up and saw the name of the street: Chalet. I lost my mind. I was beginning to envision a horse-drawn carriage coming to pick me up because I was too tired to make it the rest of the way home. I heard a car behind me and swore it was Juanito. How did he know? Did I send him a telepathic message that I wanted to give up? The car sped by. It wasn’t Juanito. There was no horse-drawn carriage. Do you want to know why? Do you? Do you?
In my state of delirium, I mistook the name of Chalet for Chariot and thought that my knight in shining armor would pick me up and save me from this challenge. LMFAO that I couldn’t even speak English anymore. I took a sip of water and laughed uncontrollably for about a minute before I realized that I had to keep walking…and walking…and walking.
Did I tell you guys that my neighborhood is full of cul-de-sacs? Almost every street ends with CIR. All roads lead to nowhere and I had no idea where to walk or which cul-de-sac to enter to lengthen my journey, so I just went ahead and walked down each one. That’s when it hit me: an overwhelming amount of cars and trucks were emblazoned with a San Diego Chargers sticker! The first one I noticed was on a truck that I would have to take a running start to be able to jump into (so maybe he was visiting his girlfriend from the 909). The second and third and fourth and one hundredth were on sedans and mini vans. I could not believe it. I thought it was only Linck who flew the Chargers flag!
8:08 and I began to recognize my path. I walked by the opposite side of Azcal’s school and could hear that the Pledge of Allegiance was being said over the loud speaker. I didn’t stop. Did that make me un-American? I began to pray. I know this makes no sense but I was starting to lose feeling in my legs (not really, but I was suffering in my head) and I said to la Virgencita, “Madrecita, if you didn’t want me to walk, then why do I have legs? If you didn’t want me to accept this challenge, then why was I made so stubborn? If I, If I, If I…” I was so busy asking these philosophical questions that I didn’t notice that I was walking straight towards a rogue sprinkler. That is, until I felt the cool water on my face. It felt so good and when I tasted it on my tongue it had just the right amount of ocean air mixed into it to make it salty. No, wait, that was the CLEAN sprinkler water mixing with my uncontrollable sweat and all of a sudden I felt like I needed to run. (Don’t worry, this isn’t the beginning of a story where I suddenly break out into a trot and run past the finish line in a picture-perfect victory!)
It was then that I saw them: the wolves. They are not wolves. They are big huge dogs that look like wolves, but in my mind I know they want to eat me. Their owners are a young couple with a baby boy. They walk these wolves around the neighborhood twice a day. They are so stealth that one night I was coming home and the crap was scared out of me when I noticed them walking behind my car.
The wolves and their owners were about three hundred feet in front of me; when I was entering the cul-de-sac they were already making the turn to come back out. My mission became to catch up to the wolves and scare them like they scare me. But it seemed like the steps I took with two feet were not enough to catch up to the ones they took with four (paws)! Ugh. My chase was futile because just when I was almost going to catch up to them, the owners crossed the street and walked into their backyard. WHY? WHY did these elusive wolves have to disappear so quickly?
Could I be any more delirious? Oh yes, it gets better. It is now 8:21 and I am beginning to greet garden signs. One was a frog that said “Keep off the grass,” but it was in a lump of dirt. “Yeah, grow some grass first and then I’ll keep off of it” was what I said to the frog! I then said “hello” to the little old lady with the pitchfork (don’t worry, she wasn’t real. Or wait, maybe you should worry because she wasn’t real.) Next thing I knew I was beginning to wonder what kind of neighbors I had that felt the need to say things to me from their gardens. I had lost my mind at about fifteen minutes into my walk, so you can imagine what I was like 55 minutes into it. HA!
I looked up. There it was ; sweet home Ridgeview Circle. I could hear the bells going off in my head and secretly I hoped that there would be confetti being released from the heavens as I approached my house. There was a gardener in my path who said “Buenos dias” to me. One of my neighbors who NEVER even looked in my direction was waving at me like we were best friends and our families partied together. And lastly, I could hear the familiar birds of my neighbor as I approached my front door. I knew I was home.I opened the front door slowly. It was still dark inside. No one was making any noise. Did this mean there wasn’t going to be any confetti? Did this mean that TMZ wasn’t hiding somewhere with a microphone ready to jump up and ask me how my walk went? Did this mean that the world did not take notice that I just walked to Brazil and back and a chariot did not rescue me? All it meant was that I was home. And I was thankful that in the many moments that I wanted to cut my walk short, I thought of the word that I typed in all caps DEAL. I thought of my hermana, Veronica, and her struggle while on her journey and know that she wouldn’t give up.
And while I know that this is only Day 1, I already feel like a champion. I walked. I pushed myself into territory (mental, physical, and spatial) that I didn’t think I was capable of traversing. Despite discovering that I live in Charger Nation, despite chasing wolves and never catching them, and despite the fact that my chariot never arrived to save me from myself, my mission has just begun. I can see clearly that I will be successful. One day at a time.Life is good, and so was my walk!
Here is my "after" picture that I took as I was expecting the confetti to fall from the heavens: