16:15. The final hour of siesta lingers in the air. Streets are tension filled and empty; people cling to the inside of their residences, not wanting to venture back into shared reality for the second half of their societal obligation. I bask in the emptiness. The construction near my apartment has ended for the day and I know the sound of my rubber-soled shoes smacking the stony street is echoing against the buildings that flank me on both sides. The road in front of me slowly extends outward, opening into a populated plaza that smells of chocolate croissants and is scattered with tourists. They see through the lenses of their cameras, incorrectly assuming I don’t notice them noticing me. My eyes meet the lens of one man’s camera. When I blink his shutter closes; he has successfully documented the local species. I have been running for ten minutes and I am completely conscious.
Time is now measured by music. The fifth song of Beyoncé’s new album begins and the awareness of where I am begins to slip. My routine run has ended but my legs keep running straight, the signal from my brain is too slow to decide on making any turn. The sights around me start to seem familiar but not because of my own made memories. People had told me about the castle on the other side of Segovia, described it in a way that painted a picture in my mind I was able to recognize without ever having seen it up close. My recognition doesn’t slowly start, it happens. I am forced to make a conscious decision to either run with the right curve or run directly into a gated castle door. I choose to stop and stare blankly ahead. In my confusion I see a third option, a waist level gate that leads to a descending staircase.
My legs awkwardly make their way over the gate; I feel like a baby horse that doesn’t quite understand how to control their limbs in a harmonious way with the rest of their body. Stumbling, sweating, panting, I make my way down the stairs of what I would describe as a large hill or small mountain. Stairs morph into a dirt trail and Beyoncé’s continues to serenade me. I have no idea where I am going but it feels right to go.
A cold sweat creeps into both of my calves. The feeling radiates up to my knees, my things, grips my hips and escalates to the crooks of my collarbone. I can feel my hairline dampen, sweat sinking into my blonde hair and turning it to a dusty brown. The intensely cold feeling on a sunny, mid-temperature day awakens me. It was as if I hadn’t felt anything up until this moment but now, I feel everything. Air hits my face hard; I have continuously been running against the wind but I just now realizes it as my pace drastically increases. The corners of my open mouth turn into the smile of someone seeing for the first time. I look up at the castle, cathedral and buildings in between looming over my head. To the sides of me are walls of limestone rock and ahead is nothing but the dirt trail against green grass.
I realize music is still playing, the song Rocket midway through. Beyoncé draws out a note, it turns into a moan and I unconsciously mimic the sound, uttering it out loud to an empty path. The mixed feeling of intense physical pain and the mental strength is overwhelming in the most freeing of way. Halfway up a hill my feet start moving faster; I am sprinting. My lungs are grasping for air and my chest is heaving. My respiratory system nearly shuts down right before my feet adjourn to flat land. The heaving of my chest should have slowed with the evening of the path but instead it increased. I realize I am running through the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, I live in Spain, I have no responsibilities and I am uncontrollably laughing.
Everything has stopped but the shaking of my chest. I don’t try to control my emotions; I let the sensation of truly being happy and free wash over me entirely. The feeling continues but my face contorts as tears start streaming down my cheeks. It doesn’t seem fair that I am basking in bliss while other people are living in misery. Gratefulness for being able to run turns to longing to share the feeling which turns back to grateful for feeling something worth sharing.
17:20. I check the clock on my phone and time begins again. Dinner is in a half hour. I start my walk home.