The 2011 New Albany Walking Classic

Today was the seventh annual New Albany Walking Classic.  Billed as America’s largest walking only race, the event attracts thousands of entrants, from Olympic-caliber athletes to casual walkers looking to get some exercise.  This year, organizers added a half-marathon to the traditional 10K race distance.

This year, as always, the New Albany Walking Classic route went right past our neighborhood, which means trying to drive from our home to the New Albany Country Club to play golf is to be avoided — unless you want to be accosted by Boy Scout troop leaders in full uniform or New Albany Walking Classic officials.  Rather than run that risk, I donned my golf shoes and joined the walkers as I journeyed from our house over to the golf course.  Along the route, we were serenaded by some very fine chamber music from two members of the New Albany Symphony Orchestra and got to see an artist working on a painting.  Later on, members of a marching band provided the musical accompaniment.

Although the New Albany Walking Classic is an inconvenience for those of us who live in the North of Woods neighborhood, it is nice event for the community.  And this year, I even got in some walking of my own.

The Browns, And The Horror

If you wanted to encapsulate all of the awfulness, and the futility, and the anguish of being a Browns fan in one contest, today’s putrid loss against the woeful Cincinnati Bengals in a pelting rainstorm would be a good way to do it.

We Browns fans have seen this before — and not just because, for the 12th time in 13 years, the Browns have gagged away their season opener.  Once again, the Browns failed to show the toughness and killer instinct to put the game away when they had the Bengals on the ropes.  Once again, the Browns lost the lead in the fourth quarter against a team that they should have beaten and then failed miserably in their attempt to mount their own two-minute drive.   Once again, there were crucial breakdowns that led to plays that made the Browns look like an uncoached pee wee team from Finland being introduced to American football for the very first time.

It is all so tiresome, so embarrassing, and so predictable.  The players change, the coaches change, and the front office officials change, but the horror of being a Browns fan goes on, and on, and on.

I Remember

I remember being at my desk when the attorney in the office next door told me that a plane had crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center.

I remember when he told me moments later that another plane had crashed into the other tower, and we both realized, with a stunned, sinking feeling, that this must be intentional — and in that dark,  brutal instant, everything changed.

I remember watching the small TV in his office, feeling sick and amazed and helpless as the towers fell, and we heard that the Pentagon was hit, and we learned that another plane had crashed in Pennsylvania, and we wondered where else the terrorists might strike.

I remember driving out of an almost deserted downtown Columbus, after the authorities decided it should be evacuated.

I remember feeling immensely relieved when we picked up the boys from school and got them home and felt that everyone in our family was safe.

I remember watching the TV news for hours, flipping from channel to channel, aghast and horrified at the overwhelming death and destruction and devastation, and feeling a surge of red-hot fury upon seeing the scenes of celebration in some parts of the Middle East.

I remember being back at my desk the next day, thinking that it felt unseemly and pointless and somehow disrespectful to the dead to be back at work, like it was just another workday when everyone knew it wasn’t.

I remember feeling proud and encouraged when, days later, I looked up and saw a commercial plane back in the air for the first time in what seemed like forever.

I remember, even though I didn’t live in New York or Washington and none of my friends or family members were involved on that day 10 years ago, because I am an American and I could have been on those planes, or working in those buildings.

I remember, because the memories of that day are still sharp and open and raw, as harsh and bitter and gritty as the billowing clouds of dust that boiled through the streets of New York City in the instants after the stricken towers collapsed.

I remember, because I still feel chilled and enraged when I think about the innocents who were murdered and the lives that were forever changed on that horrific day when madmen decided to attack our nation.

I remember, because I cannot and will not forget.