Running Home

I grew up in the country with cows and coyotes and snakes and jackrabbits. With hay bales to jump, trees to climb, and old barns and acres of woods and pasture to explore. With peace and quiet except for the occasional crack and pop of family and neighbors practicing marksmanship behind the stock-pond. To my five-year-old mind, going to Wal-Mart was tantamount to an expedition, requiring extensive preparation and the decision of the perfect toy or book to pack to pass the time on the (three-mile) drive into Town—and, yes, back then it was capital-T Town.  A trip to “Dallas” aka anywhere west of the neighboring town of Forney, seemed a temporary move.

Now, I live in Town (though I’m sure someone from an urban area would still say I live in the country). I’m serenaded nightly by sirens rather than coyotes, and as a shy, private person I often feel trapped by the transparency of my chain-link fence and the constant presence of people on the street or in the yards. Don’t get me wrong, it has its upsides: like being an easy walk or bike ride from most places I want or need to go; and I’m pretty sure I’ve developed such a dependence on my internet I’d likely go into withdrawls if I had to stay with my parents in the sorry-you’re-about-100-feet-too-far-for-our-internet zone where I grew up.

Despite living roughly three miles from my parents and the home where I grew up, it can sometimes feel like an impassable chasm lies between. The chasm that lies between all of us and our childhoods. I still drive through once a week, if not more; but it’s not the same. I’m not the same.

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a runner. Have been a runner in some form or fashion since I was about twelve, because my mom was an avid runner. As a kid, I ran the rock roads around our home, had all the usual distances marked. The mile marker, first driveway around the corner at the end of the road. Mile and a half, the first bend of the S-curve, just past the delineation between rocky dirt and pavement, past the old Nike base. Two miles, where the little country road met Highway 205. The scenery was pretty and there was very little traffic; though the rocks on the road increased the threat of a twisted ankle and I carried a big stick to scare off the dogs that liked to chase and sometimes bite anything—runners, other animals, cars–that passed their houses.

Now, I’ve got favorite running locales all over the area. (And one day I’ll post a list of my top ten favorite.) Last week, I was feeling particularly nostalgic and decided to run my childhood route. 20170502_190311The roads are all paved now. And the S-curve is a single curve that dead-ends where the old county road was converted to a FM road. Very little remains of the old Nike base, which as a child I had believed was an abandoned shoe factory until my dad laughingly explained that Nike was a type of missile they’d stored there during WWII.

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Remains of the old Nike base 2017

And while the traffic is a little heavier, the scenery is still bucolic. So much has changed, and yet so much is still the same.

The smells of grass and soil and cattle—a pleasant yet slightly unpleasant aroma—fill the air. The hum and buzz of insects accompanied by birdsong, interspersed with the crackling of startled animals and underscored by the susurrus of the breeze in the long, prairie grass formed my running mix long before the ipod was unleashed upon the world. And I was pleased to find it still plays on a running loop, with seasonal variations, for the free enjoyment of all.

These simple pleasures brought me joy and peace as a child and they still do today as long as I take the time to slip on a good pair of shoes and get out there. And the best part is that this isn’t some far-off, utopic fairy realm. We can find it all around us in the green places, in the wild places, in the carefully nurtured landscapes and the lovingly tended desk plants. It’s in the life that flourishes all around us, and sometimes in spite of us. It’s something that merits our protection not our consumption. And if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, unplug for a bit, throw on some shoes, step outside and find out for yourself.          ~a.d. guzman

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A pond on my grandpa’s land

TLA 2017 San Antonio, TX

Ever since I visited as a child, I’ve been enchanted by the exotic and yet quintessentially Texan beauty of San Antonio. This visit was no exception. I stayed in The Menger Hotel, a historical landmark as well as ideally located within walking distance of the Convention Center. This was next door to the iconic Alamo, which I could see from my window. And only a couple blocks down, I had access to the famous Riverwalk.

The first night in San Antonio, my co-worker and I enjoyed Tex-Mex at Rita’s and a brief stroll along the Riverwalk. I also managed to take my runs every morning on a Riverwalk void of nearly all its human occupants, but brimming with bird-life to serenade me as I ran. (Who knew you could get lost running beside a river? After that first day, I ran on one side.)

And that was just the host city.

My first experience at TLA was amazing. The sheer size and scope of the conference was intimidating, but the facility housed it all easily, even if I did have trouble finding my way around at times. I enjoyed the panels and luncheons I attended, and I definitely learned a lot from both general sessions with Cory Doctorow and Carmen Agra Deedy.

The best part, however, was–you guessed it–the books! The Exhibit Hall was a bibliophile’s crack-house, with librarians hitting up the dealers each day for their latest fix. Walk up to almost any publisher’s booth and you could pick up a free ARC(advanced reading copy) or free swag. Helpful representatives pointed out their contests and giveaways that would happen later during the conference.

Naive little newbie that I was, I ended up so burdened with books my first walk through I had to hunt down a vendor giving away bags (there were many) because I kept dropping everything. At the end of the conference, I had a good five bags stuffed to the brim with books and swag.

Did I mention the authors? Established greats and debut new comers–so many writers attended, not just speaking and signing their books, but most giving them away when you got into their autograph line. It was a back-breaking, arm-straining, feet-aching heaven–if you like books.

The only thing that will make this event even better is getting to attend as an author and meeting the people who read my stories and, I hope, love them as much I love sharing them.

To see more pictures from my trip, visit my Facebook page TLA album. And if you’d like to chat, feel free to send me an email.

Until next time!

Neches Wilderness Canoe Race 2015

Got up at four a.m. to be ready for my sister to pick us up at five. Excitement about the upcoming race (that and a little Dr. Pepper) kept us alert throughout the two-hour drive to the start point. Then we finalized our registration, unpacked and hauled our kayaks and gear to the riverbank ready for the eight a.m. (nine actually) start time. Announcements were made, the first few groups launched, then into the water, air-horn sounded and off we paddled!

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