I was up before my alarm went off, the iridescent glow on my cable box telling me it was 5:54am.
I was wide awake.
The half-light of dawn peeked around the edges of the windows and beckoned me outside. It drew me up, out of bed, and out the front door where the morning was silent but for the call of the birds surveying the neighborhood from their perch high atop the trees.
I stretched out my legs and set off through the early morning mist blanketing my street. I knew that by the time I got home the mist would be a memory, burned off in minutes by the rising sun. But for now it settled comfortably around me, bringing me into its center and carrying me through my first mile.
My habitual route took me in a loop around my neighborhood. I ran through streets just beginning to shake themselves awake after a long night of slumber. I ran past houses - some still dark with shades tightly drawn, and others with kitchen lights glowing cozily as families rose to greet the day.
On the corner a bathrobe-clad woman reached outside to grab her newspaper, a small dog prancing around her ankles. She smiled and waved to me, and I to her. I don't know her name, nor she mine, but every time I run, there she is, this woman who is one more reminder that this place now belongs to me.
Nine months ago I despaired of ever finding my footing again, but now here I was, waving at strangers who are really not strangers, running the streets that have become my own.
Time is a funny thing.
I made the final turn with half a mile to go. I picked up my pace, running towards the sun, now high in the sky. For just a second I closed my eyes and, feeling the rush of wind as I raced down the final stretch, gave thanks for running, for early mornings, for silent streets, for health.
I ended the run as I usually do. Standing on my deck in the back of my house, guzzling water, stretching out. Usually when I'm done I go straight inside to get ready for the day. But not today. There were showers to take, outfits to pick, coffee to drink, commutes to start, and work to do, but I wasn't quite ready.
So I sat on the deck for a few more minutes, holding this unexpected morning close, tucking it into my heart where it would be if I needed it.
This morning will sustain me.
Because tomorrow's run might be harder.