JT had been excited by Joe’s Sunday afternoon call with news of his Monday substitute job but Joe was sensitive to the subtle message his manager conveyed that the advanced notice was less than ideal. “That’s great, Joe. It really is. If possible a little more lead time on this would be beneficial but I’m super excited for you. We’ll see you Tuesday, right?”
“I think so. This is a one day thing so unless something falls into my lap tomorrow I should be to work on Tuesday.”
“All righty then. Keep me posted if things change. Have fun and go ed-du-ma-cate those lil’ chillins.”
Joe was certain he didn’t sleep at all Sunday night and he was pretty sure he slept less than three hours once the wee hours of Monday morning started ticking by. Misty had an established routine of rising after 7:00 a.m. with the help of her alarm clock but she had resignedly agreed to get up twenty minutes early and leave their apartment at 7:10 in order to drive Joe to his first day of work.
There was a simple, direct route from Cimarron apartments to East Side Elementary that consisted of turning south on Roswell Road, turning west on Abernathy and then after Abernathy segued into Johnson Ferry Road which in turn twisted back to the north, taking a final left turn on Highway 120 which passed directly in front of his destination. This route made great sense in a car but the high volume, busy roads listed would likely prove suicidal to a cyclist.
Sunday afternoon Joe scoured his Fulton and Cobb County map books and found a twisting, circuitous route from their apartment just north of Dalrymple Road that swung east and then north that would keep him off of busy Roswell Road for the vast majority of his bike ride. It meandered a lot but brought him back on the major north, south Roswell Road thoroughfare with a distance of less than a quarter mile before his left turn onto the far more tranquil, Chattahoochee River hugging Azalea Drive.
Sunday evening he had ventured out on his bike and familiarized himself with the first section of his commute. He’d headed directly away from his destination as he rode north east along the route he took to his job at Challenge Cyclery in Dunwoody. Once he came to Roberts Drive he veered away from his by now ingrained rote route to the bike store and followed Roberts to Northridge, turning onto Dunwoody Place, back onto Roberts and when he came to Roswell Road he had turned around when he could see the Azalea Drive traffic light from his vantage point just a few hundred feet south of the Chattahoochee River.
Once clear of Roswell Road he would meander westward along Azalea and then south on Willeo, Lower Roswell and Indian Hills Parkway. These backroads would allow him to travel in relative safety amongst the secondary and tertiary byways that connected the Atlanta hamlet of Sandy Springs with East Side Elementary and it was this unfamiliar route he had asked Misty to drive him on later that morning and that he would retrace in the opposite direction at 3:30 when the end of his workday arrived.
At five o’clock Joe gave up on sleep, slipped quietly out of bed, closed their bedroom door behind him and even though he had checked and rechecked his school supplies and bicycle riding gear the night before he again confirmed that all of his known necessary items were indeed stowed in the burnt orange panniers that sat next to his Trek commuting bike.
Stuck between a desire for sleep and nerves that prevented him from doing so he went ahead and ground coffee, added water but did not start the pot dripping. Instead he slipped into the bedroom he shared with his bride, grabbed socks and a long sleeve tee-shirt from his dresser, was disappointed but not overly surprised at not finding his running shoes in their closet and then was relieved when he quickly and quietly located them tucked under coach in the living room. After some light stretching he filled his coffee mug with water and quickly chugged his fill before slipping out of the apartment and into the cool, dark, predawn November morning.
He remembered to walk quietly down the broad, outdoor staircase and once he had walked away from the building and out to Cimarron Parkway where he stood and listened to the birds singing for a few minutes before he started gently trotting east. He passed the swimming pool and then a quarter mile later after slipping passed the illuminated but empty tennis courts turned south on Monterey which he followed in its twisting helix of luxury garden apartment accouter.
Joe and Misty frequently ran along the meandering road and at the early hour of his run traffic was very light and the street lights made for a well-lit, quiet and peaceful space in which to lay one foot in front of the other in a tranquil, soul centering space. Because today’s run was designed to burn off nervous energy more than to advance fitness Joe had not started the timer on his Timex watch but when he reached the most distant point of his run he checked the time, realized that it was a bit later than he thought and in response Joe increased his pace from leisurely to spirited and returned to his apartment with labored breathing and pounding pulse that had not been present on the first half of his run.
Joe slowed when he reached the swimming pool, walked once he reached his building’s parking lot and then climbed the stairs slowly and methodically, resting the ball of his foot on each step as he languidly stretched his calf muscles to reduce lactic acid buildup. The kitchen clock read minutes past six and Joe flipped the switch that started his morning coffee brewing, slipped out of his running clothes, draped the wet togs over the side of the dirty laundry hamper and put his running shoes in their designated spot in the walk-in closet.
Misty had set her alarm for 6:40 and was still sleeping so Joe kissed his fingertips, pressed them to her cheek and then took the pillow from his side of the bed and gently placed it over Misty’s face. He always felt a shiver of taboo when he covered his beloved’s face with a pillow, unwanted visions of smothering pulsed at the base of his brain, but when Joe was up and about and she wasn’t yet ready to start her day Misty frequently covered her own face in this manner and Joe had learned to suppress his anxiety and emulate Misty’s actions. He smiled at her again, closed the bathroom door, turned the water on in the shower, clambered in and luxuriated in the warm pulsing torrent.