I don't know how many giving trees there are in Atlanta, but this is certainly where the sidewalk ends. In efforts to elude the chunk sitch which has, unfortunately, been the cause of some need for dress alterations in recent weeks, I have taken to my old ways of running in the early morning in my new neighborhood. While my apartment complex does have a fitness center, I do find that running outdoors has a twofold benefit. Firstly, it's less boring. Secondly, it helps me to get acclimated to my new surroundings. However, there is one bit of my new surroundings to which I have yet to become accustomed: the sidewalks.
The first morning I went running, I realized that at 5am Atlanta is still pitch dark with only spots of street lamps. The spacing appears the same as in New York, but somehow, the overall ambient light isn't there. I suppose it is safe to say that Atlanta is a city that does sleep. So, on a run through the deserted neighborhoods of North Druid Hills, I was plugging away when all of a sudden I found myself, like a lone lemming, running off a cliff of sidewalk onto a tree's lumpy and exposed roots. The terrain continued in this manner for some 100 yards until I was safely back on the sidewalk in front of a child development center.
A block or so later, I turned left onto La Vista Road, a fairly well-trafficked thoroughfare, thinking I'd be safe to run the length of this road until I looped back to my apartment. But, a few blocks later, there I was again, running in the slim divot of a path cut by patrons of the Marta bus line on their way to the stop. About ten steps into this adventure, a branch hit me squarely in the right lens of my glasses, and I muffled a shriek, hoping not to awaken any residents of my neighborhood who would appear more sane than I.
A turn onto Briarcliff Road revealed an continuance of the utter lack of sidewalk, forcing me to take my huffing and puffing through the parking lot in front of the Needle Nook and the Kosher Deli, Through a strange tall-grass-covered island in front of an auto repair shop, and onto yet another beaten path that was cut like a terraced rice paddy where the road declined into a grassy ditch. Another few blocks led me to the beginning of a new, wide sidewalk, guarded by a terrifyingly lifelike painted metal giraffe facing outward from a peculiarly decorated back yard.
Under the watchful eye of the painted giraffe, however, I did make it home safely, panting and wheezing, and making sure not to step on the deceased bird I passed just before my stop light. I couldn't help thinking, though, how Shel Silverstein would have relished such a run as Atlanta seems to not only be where the sidewalk ends, but also where it begins....and ends and begins again.