The running here in Litchfield County is improving, and today I threw caution to the wind and headed south (? better: right) on Hwy. 6 down Naugatuck Valley.
Or should I say up. The hill just kept going and Craig Norris talked a bit too much in the first ten minutes of the R3 30, so it was a struggle at first and I was counting the minutes (15 in total) that I would run in one direction before allowing myself to turn around and head home (which is, somehow, also terribly uphill).
But just as I hit the crest of the hill, I noticed a driveway, or at least an inlet of sorts, on my right hand side. (If you happen to be using this as a map of the Valley, I run on the left hand side. Obviously).
It was majestic. It was daunting. It was something from that movie The Fugitive only way less extreme. It was the Northfield Brook Park entrance to the Thomaston Dam.
I jogged down the gravel pathway atop the dam, noted that rappelling and ice climbing are not allowed, imagined my buddies back home sneaking out after dark to get up to such mischief, and turned around.
It wasn't until I reached the halfway point down the gravel pathway, which sort of had the feel of a gangplank, that I stopped to take in the view. The river below was rolling high, roaring with the rain of the past week. The trees, mostly deciduous, formed a fuzzy, familiar blanket down the Valley, and if I leaned one way I thought I could see the graveyard, er, cemetery, that usually acts as my run-to spot. Facing the other direction, I could understand for the first time why it's always uphill in Thomaston: it's a narrow valley, and the town follows the riverbed while never really exposing it as a natural attraction. So if you're not climbing, running, or driving uphill, you generally feel like you're about to fall over a cliff.
Does that make sense?
In any case, standing up on the Thomaston Dam gangplank, it made sense to me. Something about the town clicked for the first time. And, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit it, but I realized something else about my relationship to this town -- and the development of my relationship to this town.
It's all seen through the eyes of my fiance, who has a bit of a love/ hate thing going on with his birth place. When we first met in Hawaii he couldnt' stop talking about it. Upon returning, and noting that almost 100% of it's inhabitants have noticeably lighter skin than yours truly and driving around at 10:30 on a Saturday night looking for a coffee house with chill music that, apparently, doesn't exist, he's disenchanted, to say the least.
At the Dam today, I imagined Alex taking me there, sweeping his arms at the bounty of the land and pointing out locales from his youth. In that fantasy, I was bitter. I felt the chill of my own sarcastic take on life -- the park has U.S. Army written all over it, and they're an easy target these days -- and saw my cold shoulders scurry for the comfort of the car.
I think this can be summed up with a comparison.
Alex likes to watch movies with other people who have already seen that movie and love it. I find this quite irritating, what with all the expectations and ruined punchlines. I prefer to find movies; sure, I like to share them, but I already know Alex and I have different movie tastes (last night, when the coffee house fantasy flopped, he settled for Tropic Thunder from the local Red Box).
In short, I like to stumble upon my own vantage points, all pumped up on my own endorphins. A part of me is even hesitant to share this blog with Alex, preferring to hold this mornings' experience as some special discovery in My Own Private Connecticut.