Who Put the Bomp

A few years ago, I wrote what might still be my favorite post. It was about the history of pockets, and it’s my favorite because for once, the conclusion came easy and neatly. Too neatly and pop-historically, to be sure — but I’ll stand by it. Here it is, so you don’t have to click and scroll: pockets freed women from the house, thus setting in motion a whole raft of liberties: education, careers, the vote.

Pockets freed women from the house — and strollers put the house on wheels. Maybe this sounds more encumbering than anything else, but: think of RVs, or hermit crabs. With a house on your back, you can go where you please. Fine, but only if you walk, I’d thought. Running is sacred. No, not sacred: selfish. Running is mine.

The Pioneer by Frederick McCubbin (1904)

But nothing is fully mine anymore, because my mind’s gone and split itself in two. The cost of running without a baby with a baby is not just temporal, but mental and logistical — ie, I was spending as much time figuring out how and when I would run as I was running, and the running was tenterhooked with the ticking of the clock. Running strollers began to present themselves not as objects of derision but of intrigue, then tentative lust. A month ago, still uncertain, I bought one, and let me tell you: it was love at first run. The logistical gymnastics, the mental dithering, the ticking clock: all vanished, and what replaced them, beyond the running itself, was some kind of wonderful. 

Running with a stroller is not the same, for me, as running without one. Physically, it’s different, of course, but not so much as to be an impediment. My form is a little more compressed, and forward leaning — both of which Runners World would leave me to believe are good things! But the primary difference is one of tone. What was once inward, reflective and head-clearing is now outward, absorbant and omni-conscious. The joy of papoosing your child into these still, once-personal spaces is quiet and loud all at the same time.

This morning, we turned off Prospect Park’s east drive and onto a path that jots back along the ball fields towards Grand Army. Immediately we were plunged into green. Green, green, green. The air between my footfalls richocheted with peepers, and when I stopped, their calls were so thick they took my breath away.

(Growing up, we would have field trips to the Mugar Omni Theatre, in Boston. You’d sit in your steepled seat and the hush  would set in and slowly, the hush would become a buzz would become many many striations of buzz — peepers included. The noise would build and build until you almost couldn’t stand it, and then: silence. But that loud kind of silence. “Oh wow,” the narrator would exclaim, breaking it. And that was before the polar bear dashed the ice crust with her paw, or the celadon inch worm began to spin his crysalis. Anyways, running into the peeper dawn, and then stopping to film your stern child is something like that.)

The peepers don’t demand a run to be heard.  But running helps with the engulfment. They don’t demand a stroller, either. But they do demand my ears, which, because of the stroller, are suddenly free. And maybe that’s the crux of the stroller running wonder right there. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in Prospect Park, and I don’t know if I’d ever once listened to it.

Anyways. This is not a stroller review but I give my stroller five out of five stars, with ten extra stars for its ballast. (It’s this one, if you’re interested, but my sister-in-law’s friend used this one to run up and down Mount Washington, and it’s ⅓ the Thule’s price.)


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