[teenage wasteland]

Back to school is a fun time in suburbia. Especially when you live in close proximity to a middle school and a high school.

Last week school officially started again for the Cobb County public school system. Since the middle school is directly next door to our neighborhood, traffic gets a little hectic around 9 AM and 4 PM every day as parents and buses line up in front of the school. 

Today though I had an entirely new experience. 

After a full day of job applications I decided to go for a quick run to clear my head. Off I went on my usual 3 mile route. Okay "run" may be a bit of an exaggeration; I'm doing the Couch to 5k training program and I'm only on week 2. So mostly I walk. 


As I was exiting a neighborhood for the final half-mile or so I saw a group of what appeared to be high school aged boys run by on the main street I was approaching. I thought "oh how cute, the local cross country team!" Eventually I reached the street I had seen them on and continued my slow progress. Then I heard the thunder of feet and was hit by an overwhelming cloud of Axe body spray and teenage boy sweat. 

There were more.

I soon found out that there were lots more of them. Lots. They just kept running past me in groups of 5, chattering the whole way like they were on a Sunday stroll. Rapidly the runners went from precious high schoolers to terrible reminders of how out of shape I am and how I've aged. Don't get me wrong, 26 isn't old. But it's a far cry from 16. 

I fluctuated from amusement to embarrassment to frustration. Sure one day running will come more easily for me too. But for right now it involves a lot of huffing and puffing and turning into a tomato faced ball of sweat. 

Eventually the amusement took over and I reminisced about being 16 again in the suburbs of Atlanta, with all the opportunities and joy that comes with it. 

When I was about halfway to my next turn I noticed something else: the runners were headed back my way.  Apparently they were going to the corner then turning around. Soon I was dodging high schoolers coming from both directions and feeling quite a bit overwhelmed. When I reached the corner and rounded it, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was finally free.

I was wrong.

Not only did a pack quickly pass me, but I spotted more in the distance coming towards me. Honestly I'm not even sure how that's possible. They were everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. In every direction there were small bands of high school runners. All I wanted in life was a glass of water in the cool A/C of my house but first it appeared I was going to have to survive this gauntlet of teenaged hormones amplified by the sudden presence of high school girl runners. Seriously I'm not really sure where they came from but suddenly there were girl runners everywhere the boy runners were. I think they were multiplying like cells in a petri dish; you start with 10 and they all split in half and suddenly there's 1,000 of them.  That's how it felt anyways. 

I rounded the corner onto the final major street before entering my neighborhood, expecting to see a small band of high schoolers coming towards me. Thankfully there were none. All the way home not a single other high schooler was seen. And for that I was extremely grateful.

Needless to say, in the future I'll be timing my runs a little better so that I never again have to walk through trees and shrubs and people's yards to avoid being run over by roaming packs of high school cross country runners. 

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