“The lady in red, is dancing with me…There’s no body here, it’s just you and me….But I hardly know, this beauty by my side…” -Chris de Burgh
There is a woman that I see regularly on my running path at the Beverly Gardens Park. She is always wearing the exact same thing: a red shirt, red shorts, and red tennis shoes. When I’ve gotten close enough to her, she seems to also be wearing red lipstick with no other make up. The only non-red on her is her white visor and white socks. She either has multiple of the same exact outfit, or she just wears it on every run and washes it. She is clean, not unkempt.
She looks a little older, maybe early 60’s. She has the lean body of being a life-long runner; a physique I’ve always admired and envied. Her skin has that quality of having had too much sun exposure. Sometimes I have crossed paths with her in the middle of her run, sometimes at the end. If it’s the end, she makes it back to her car where her little brown dog is waiting for her. She lets out the dog and takes out her yoga mat and does some post-run stretches before leaving.
Lady in red, who are you? Because you wear the same outfit and run the same path everyday, I have noticed you amongst the other runners. Why do you always wear red? Are you wearing the same pair of red running shoes for several years now; or do you have ten of the exact same shoe, because you should at least get new shoes for the sake of your joints.
What does the color red mean to you? It’s not an accident that you wear red everyday, because when it’s cold out, then you put on a red long-sleeved shirt. Are you wearing red to represent the Red Ribbon Campaign; to bring attention to the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America? Have you taken their pledge to help children grow up in a drug-free America?
Or are you wearing red as part of the Go Red for Women campaign; to raise awareness about heart disease and stroke being the number one killer for women in the U. S.? Are you involved with the Red Ribbon Foundation, supporting HIV and AIDS prevention education programs? Did you lose a child to drugs, or someone close to you to heart disease or AIDS; and now you run in their memory everyday?
Are you the original lady in the Lady in Red song? Did Chris de Burgh sing that song about you in 1986? You probably would have been in your 30’s then. Or did someone else sing that song to you and call you their Lady in Red, and now you’ve lost them? That was one of my favorite songs in the late 80’s, as I fantasized about someone singing it to me and twirled around in my teenage bedroom. The color red was my favorite color for a few years before I moved on, but the color red has stayed with you. When you finish your stretch and get back in your car with your dog to go home, is there anyone waiting for you there? What is your story? We all have a story.
Did you start running to flee from the reason you needed to wear red, escaping from sadness and loss and memories, and now the run stayed with you. Or were you already a runner and had the advantage of knowing that whatever turmoil life handed you, you could turn to your run for your mourning and your moving meditation?
When you get home and change out of your run clothes, are those red, too?
What do you think about during your run? Are you working through your thoughts and your life, like I am. Or is your run the time when you can finally shut down your racing mind? As your feet alternately hit the dirt path, are you feeling your body, or are you tuning it out? How would you maintain your runsanity if you couldn’t run?
One January day, when I made it back to my car, I saw you talking to a woman, and then later to a guy. My heart dropped! You talk!!! I was so shocked and happy to see you making idle conversation with other people. I had worried about you being alone, and seeing you chit-chatting made me realize that if you can do that, you probably have at the minimum friends, if not a partner in life. You have something more than this run, to bring you companionship in life. Why had I worried about you? Why had I thought that just because you have the same exact daily run and routine, that you might be alone? Because you make the conscious choice to wear red every day,…..and in my heart, I know there is a reason behind it that is deeper than just having a favorite color.
Lady in Red, whatever your story is, I know that this daily run gives you some serenity and order, as it does to me. If nothing else, we have that in common. I hope that a time doesn’t come when I don’t see you on this path, for then I will worry about you again. And if this red represents your black, I hope to see you leave your mourning clothes one day but continue your run.