And now, we return to Orlando. Welcome back, for Part III.
When I woke up that Friday morning, my fourth day in Orlando, I knew I had one main choice to make for the day: whether to go back to Wekiwa Springs State Park and go kayaking for most of the day (as I originally thought I would do – Part 1) or stay in the city and relax.
I wanted to do both, but thinking of all I’d done on Thursday (Part II) and what I most wanted out of Friday, I chose the latter.
The decision was actually easier than I thought, and my feeling that it was the right decision was confirmed during my morning run, an easy 35-minutes around town.
Yes, this is what I want to be doing, I thought as I jogged – taking it easy, not rushing, and letting come what may. What if I didn’t worry and just did that? Yes, let’s go.
About ten minutes into the run, I got to the Orlando Urban Trail, a paved running and biking trail similar to the Cady Way Trail that I’d been on two days earlier.
I couldn’t believe it, but there it was, in Orlando – the Dinky Line!
This was remarkable because in Princeton we have the Dinky too! Technically it’s the Princeton Shuttle, a 2.9-mile NJ Transit commuter rail line that connects Princeton and Princeton Junction (where you can then go north to New York, or south to Trenton and Philly). To anyone who’s local, it’s the Dinky. I promised myself I’d come back later and get a picture (which I did the next day).
With a Dinky-inspired smile, I continued on my run, passing through Lake Eola Park, Thornton Park, and then Mills 50 on my way back to my Airbnb. Along the way, I found myself smiling again when I happened upon another reminder of home.
Yes, in the Mills 50 neighborhood in Orlando, at the intersection of art and utility boxes, there’s an orange Einstein.
It’s good to get away and leave home for a fresh perspective. And it’s also good, when you’re away and relaxed, to be reminded of home. I was running at the pace of Dave, feeling a greater sense of self and doing what I wanted. And then, without trying, I found the Dinky and Einstein. I was away from home, yet I was at home at the same time. What if I brought some of this home back with me?
Part of my run also went down Shine Avenue. Yes, Orlando, full of great signs 🙂
One of my reasons for dedicating the day, Friday, to relaxing and local exploring was that I was doing the Best Damn Race Orlando Half Marathon the next day. I didn’t want to rush when picking up my race packet, and staying local meant I could also take advantage of the kitchen in the Airbnb to cook my favorite pre-long-race meal.
For a while, this pre-race meal (whenever possible) has been homemade tomato sauce and pasta. And that’s what I made. Crushed tomatoes, garlic, onions (the ones that I’d picked the day before at the farm!), olive oil, salt, and pepper. The leftovers were also good the next day after the race, and on the plane ride home on Sunday.
After dinner, I wrapped up my Friday by going to an improv show at SAK Comedy Lab in downtown Orlando. I’d heard about SAK from someone at Tasty Tuesdays, and having done improv myself recently with some friends at home and knowing how hard/easy/stressful/freeing/awesome it can be to do – you should try it! if you want to – I was looking forward to seeing a live show.
The show was great, and on top of that there was also the wall-art with the improv of life reminders.
I had initially stopped by SAK in the afternoon to buy a ticket. Seeing no one at front desk, I continued on in and headed up the stairs. While looking at the Improv is Life wisdom-inspiration murals, I ran into the person, Dale, who would be hosting the show that night. He gave me the details on the tickets (can reserve them online) and the art (one of the performers, who is also a visual artist, designed everything).
Sometimes at work in the morning, I’ll write daily intention reminders to myself on a yellow post-it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but taking these pictures at SAK was like doing the same thing, on a larger scale.
I invite you to click, expand, and pan through the murals and see what thoughts and ideas resonate with you. And to see an improv show, and to try it too.
The words in these pictures
And my words and pictures
Are for everyone,
Friends old and new and not yet known.
They’re there for me
And there for you,
Feelings felt and
For my last day in Orlando, part one was doing the half marathon. When I had originally signed up for it, I thought it would be my weekly long run as part of training for a spring marathon. I never found the right marathon motivation though, so I never signed up for one. This is also to say that had there been any doubt, my goal for the Best Damn Race Orlando Half Marathon was at this point definitely to have it mirror my goal for the trip as a whole – to move myself in the direction I wanted to go in, relax and enjoy it, and welcome the outcome and whatever comes.
I found and welcomed the sunrise on my way to the start.
I also found my lucky numbers, 313.
No better a birthday, or combination of primes, has the world known. I may be biased though.
The route took us through some familiar neighborhoods and streets, including Shine Ave. There might have been delays for the cars that morning, but I wasn’t feeling any because, me, I wasn’t in a rush. I’ll race a race once in a while, but more often lately what I’ve been doing is appreciating the beauty of running at the pace that feels right for the day. I didn’t want to run as hard as possible and injure myself, so I didn’t. And I wanted to run at a more relaxed pace and enjoy it, so I did. It felt great, and I ran a few fun, faster miles towards the end. And I finished and lived to run another day.
A few days later when I looked at the results again, I was like, Wait a second, wow!
My gun time was 1:36:36.9, which meant that If I had kept running and were able to keep the same pace for a full marathon (that is, if I kept training and were then able to keep running the same pace), my final time would be 3:13:13! I’d found my numbers again, and again without trying.
Back to my last day in Orlando, post-half marathon, I had one final decision to make: to DRIP or not to DRIP.
At the bar a few days earlier, I had heard about what sounded like an awesome performing-arts show, DRIP. Imagine dancers moving, choreographed paint and water and sand flying, colored lights moving, a live rock band playing music, everything happening in a dark and intimate warehouse bar setting, and the audience standing and watching on the edges of the performance space and becoming an increasingly painted and wet participant. And picture the audience coming early to get a drink and paint each other and hang out, and then doing more of the same afterwards.
It sounded great, and I thought, “I should go to that. I want to do that.” Adding to the awesomeness was that I only learned about the show because I happened to visit a particular bar (recommended by my hosts) and happen to sit in the one spot at the bar that I could have sat, at the right time, to happen to have a conversation with the woman, Mariko, who happened to be the creator of DRIP!
My plan was to check it out my last night in Orlando. Drip with sweat while running in the morning, and then drip with paint while seeing DRIP in the evening. That afternoon, though, I started dragging. Whether it was the good running-feeling subsiding, the growing thoughts of my pending return to regular life at home, or something else, I started feeling the stress and worry that I had been doing good at managing.
So I took a beat and let myself be.
After getting my Dinky picture, I crossed the street and found a warm spot on the grass near Lake Highland. And then I laid down on my back, resting, breathing, looking up, not looking at anything, now with eyes closed, and I let my thoughts come and go, and along the way came the understanding that I would do whatever felt right and that that would be alright. If a more low-key evening is what was moving me, then that’s what I would do. If DRIP became the stronger part of my compass, I’d move in that direction.
The first sign in favor of DRIP was the beet juice, which I’d gotten in my race goody bag. Beet Performer is 100% beet juice, and well, one sip confirmed for me that it’s not my cup of beet juice tea.
This also explains why I had an open, nearly full can of beet juice in my rental car’s cup-holder, which was fine until I unexpectedly backed into a curb while parking, leading to the beet juice spilling and leaving a large maroon mark on my arm. How about that, I thought, I just painted myself.
Then next came the thrift store, which is what I was parking for. If I went to DRIP, I wanted to get a pair of flip flops, as Mariko had mentioned how most people wear old clothes and sandals that they don’t mind getting paint on. And what would you know: the thrift store had my exact size.
The final push to DRIP was a therapy-like conversation I had with a bartender a short while later while eating dinner. The thoughts and talk on my end went something like this: Yes, I want to go, but I have a voice telling me I shouldn’t go because I would be going by myself and would feel like I’d have to talk to new people, and I don’t always feel like doing that, and then I would be self-conscious and not enjoy it, and so on. But I want to go. And, I’d already painted myself and found flip flips! And oh yeah, I met the person who created the show, and this is an opportunity to see it and see something awesome. Tonight. And, I can go and do whatever I want, talk to or not talk to people, and have a good time. I can just go and be.
So that’s what I did.
Once upon a time, I wrote about a Two T-Shirt Day. After entering the DRIP bar area and collecting my t-shirt before the show started, I was treated to a zombie-cutting and sleeves-ripping.
And that, when combined with my half marathon attire and with the rest of my day, perspective seen and perspective shown, turned it into a Two Tank Top Day.
The show was amazing, and after it was over, I sat with myself for a few minutes in the bar area, continuing to be. Among the thoughts that came were, Yes, I’m okay, I’m doing okay, I’m me, I’m ready, Let’s go home, Let’s go.
And up next: Orlando, in song – for the special encore