A Promise, a Parade

We scrambled up Woodland. I checked my watch: 9:03. We'd promised the toddler a parade for weeks and from three blocks away, I could hear the thump of a bass drum as the Tomato Art Fest parade snaked its way through East End.

I'd gotten the timing wrong because I'd had it in my head that there was a thirty minute gap between the end of the race and the start of the parade. Some of my happiest running memories are taking off from somewhere after the finish line at East Park and running to 12th Street to line up to march in with my runners. That second wind, going my own pace for the first time in two months. But my runners usually finished around the 45 minute mark, and if the race starts at 7:45, that would put the parade at starting at 9 a.m. If I'd thought more carefully, or remembered that the neighborhood festival is now run by a professional events company, I'd probably have gotten there sooner.

We passed the bacon house and reminisced. Some time in the next few years following that post, he ended up becoming friends with the bacon lady's husband. They live in San Diego now.

We didn't stay long. I hate queueing up anyway but watching a line of toddlers wait for bounce houses while older kids kept bypassing the line was my breaking point. My kiddo was hungry and upset that we tethered her balloon to the stroller (at least until I kept pointing out the ones floating away from the festival). We'd end up only seeing a few people we knew. Maybe four. For the most part those who haven't moved away stayed home.

But there was a brief moment, when we were past the bacon house, close enough to the route to hear the multi tenors, I felt my eyes well up. I was pretty sure I was going to cry. I thought it might be some anxiety about being in public after two years of covid, or being back at the festival after the same plus a break in 2019, or maybe some mourning that I haven't run the race in four years now. But as we got closer I think it was relief. That so much can change and still be the same.

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