What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

A memoir of sorts by Haruki Murakami.

I read this book hurriedly, racing against time.  My friend had left some of his books with me when he left to study abroad and I had put off reading them for a year, reading instead my own books.  So when he finally came back to claim these books, I asked him to give me an extra week with them.  There was one book I wanted to read especially, the one by Murakami about running and writing.

It was a quick read; I finished a third of it with ease just by reading on BART.  But then my week got busier, with an impromptu visit, a Cirque du Soleil show, and a book club meeting, I was exhausted everyday and couldn’t squeeze out enough time to read.

We had agreed upon 9pm today as the pick up time.  I didn’t get home until almost 8 and managed to postpone the meeting back an hour.  I was determined to finish the book before he arrived at my apartment.  So I read vigorously, lamenting at times that I was unable to pause to fully absorb the lessons.  It felt like I was running my own race.  The more panicked I felt about the time, the faster I read but the slower I absorbed the words, which led to repeated readings of the same paragraphs.  Soon I resigned to reading at my own usual pace and was able to finish everything except the Afterword just before my phone rang.

Begrudgingly, I grabbed his other books.  If I had known that an extra 15 minutes was all I needed, I would’ve read more during lunch or left work a little earlier.  I hurriedly pulled on my boots and leather jacket and rushed out the door.  It felt like I had just finished a final without completing the conclusion, which often happened during in-class finals.  I walked out the building to see a white SUV parked just far enough to ensure that I would feel the rain.  I waited for the passenger side door to open before I walked out.  I was barely aware of the raindrops as I handed over the books to him.  He checked the titles quickly before nodding an approval.  I threw my arms around him for a final goodbye.  It was a solid hug, not one of those lazy, one-armed hugs.  No, this was a hug that beseeched the parting before a long-term departure.

I walked back to my apartment with gratitude.  With his visit, in the span of a week, I was able to cross two things off my list.  Although I now have to obtain my own copy of this book, probably in electronic form, so I can finish the Afterword.

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