15 minutes: 10:56 a.m. July 4, 2010

I went for a run today. I find I typically like to go for a good long run on holidays. Off the couch even, for a good hour or so, it feels great, no matter what.

As I got deeper into it, randomly throwing in hills here and there, mapping out my route in my head as I turned a corner or reached a ridge, making this run longer than I intended, I got to thinking about this whole patriotic/freedom thing. And I realized how thankful I was for being able to run in clean, safe neighborhoods. I didn’t have to worry about being unsafe, kidnapped or threatened. I’m a woman free to do her thing. I’m a person in a country with no rules over my head about how much skin I can show in public, how to wear anything, how to walk, talk, behave.

It was a weird but  liberating feeling and I knew it was because it was something I hadn’t really thought about before. It’s like the kids I’m climbing for this summer and raised money for earlier this year – they don’t always have the luxury of being able to go outside and play as freely as some of us.

Then, I came to one of the last bridges that was going to get me back home. It was blocked off to cars. Several cop cars, a fire engine and ambulance were at the east end, lining the north end of the bridge. I thought it was the end of an accident and I could just run by on the south side, not bothering anyone. As I approached and the cops gave me a look but didn’t stop me, I realized there was no car accident and they were standing around idly, some looking over the edge of the bridge.

As I approached the middle of a bridge, I saw him. He was sitting on the edge, on a cement block structure, legs dangling over the side. He was hunched over, the hood of his jacket covering his face. Two policemen stood a minimal distance away but what seemed like calmly talking to him. I gave the cops a quick look and then upped my pace. I came to the end of the bridge and the cop stopping traffic down there asked me, “Is he still up there?” “Yeah – How long as he been up there?” “Going on an hour now.”

As I finished my route by cutting through the park and up the street to my house, it hit me like a shock with sadness. I don’t know why he was there but I could only think it wasn’t for a good reason. From a selfish perspective, it made me realize how lucky I was to have people to go to talk to, to hug, to cry with, to be with, in a bad spot, and good. I hope this guy has an uneventful end to his day and is able to find the same.

Give everyone you see today a little extra hug.