I had helped with a checkpoint before, but this year I was a runner.
I ran through places I had never seen and didn't know were there. I saw the city's skyline from angles that were new to me. I found out there's graffiti at the base of the cliffs along River Road west. I discovered that even in the middle of a Saturday evening, standing in a part of the city I haven't been in for 15 years, I am still connected - a student of mine (not a part of the game) drove by and hung out the window to yell my name!
We started at Tower Hill park. I came on my own but quickly glommed on to others that I knew (Oliver X, Star5, Ink Tea, et al.), hoping for solidarity and wisdom since I know that I am a car driver, not a foot runner and therefore my ability to navigate would be limited.
We began with a dash across University Avenue and then a walk down train tracks. Suddenly I felt like I was in a disaster movie, trying to avoid roving gangs wearing too much football armor painted black. Our path to the second checkpoint was roundabout and lovely since it went down by the river. I've crossed the river on I-94 twice a day most days of the last few years, but I had never walked under it.
We walked through a neighborhood that should be in a "bad" part of town, but the houses were beautiful and well-kept. We cut through the old projects that are still questionable, and found that the city has spent some effort cleaning and beautifying. I found a light rail station by foot instead of just riding through it.
I made it through 4 of the 7 checkpoints, but my confusion about where the 5th checkpoint was led to my capture! Gwen and I were hiding in plain sight - walking with exiting Orchestra Hall audience members - trying to spy where the checkpoint was. Former friends and allies were circling like piranha. We ducked into a building alcove. We hid between two parked busses - while the driver stared down at us!
Eventually, my own folly was my downfall. Spying a chaser, I inadvertently said his name out loud (Danger D. Hotbod) - suddenly I was on his radar. I ran into the street (yes, I actually did look both ways). Knowing I couldn't outrun him, I started running in circles - in the middle of the street, with a crowd of Orchestra Hall onlookers. His giggles and cries of "What are you doing?!" kept me safe for precious seconds but when I broke into a straight away, it was over.
I joined the other chasers and we began our hunt. Footsore and aching, I chased a few but eventually retired to the after-party to congratulate those who made it and celebrate with everyone.
While running, I indulged in some meta-awareness. Some day I will tell stories to my daughter about doing this. I hope to encourage her to do these things as well. I want her to grow up being told, "Not tonight honey - Mommy's got to go have an adventure. I'll tell you about it in the morning." I'm 40, I'm a teacher, I'm not in the best shape (I'm working on it). I have a family, I have tons of commitments. But I will go out and run through the night!
____________end of Windelina's line___________
It is your old pal Inky here.
This was my third Journey, having manned a checkpoint in Chicago once, and acted as Bike Chaser here in Minneapolis last year. I'll admit that I had some serious doubts as to my abilities as a player, so until I'd done the other tasks in a satisfactory manner, I didn't "man up" and face the terror of running, reading maps, and making strategy- certain that I would have a nervous breakdown if chased and caught, or perhaps just get so paranoid the fragile thread of my sanity snapped.
But: armed with a crew of friends, I found myself relaxed back into the follower/documentary mode- listening and watching, of course, but putting little work into paying attention where we were going or strategizing how we'd get there. We took circuitous routes to checkpoints one and two and three, seeing only one chaser on our way to the Franklin Bridge, one on the edge of Burn Unit's park, and finally becoming too relaxed as we made our way to the fifth checkpoint. Danger and I were walking out front and when we rounded a corner found ourselves face to face with a chaser- I dashed to a bus shelter, barely missed, but Danger had been caught and I was split from the team, who all touched a single bus stop pole across the street. Danger's chaser quit the game, and I looked sadly at Danger, who stood now wearing a pink armband, between me and the rest of my runner team.
We stood there for a few minutes, and eventually I made a dash for my team, and Danger caught me. And then began my life as a chaser. Chaser Inky is a different beast than runner Inky. Chaser Inky is an urban predator, willing to run with a pack of predators, or go off on her own, should matters call for it. Chaser Inky is keen-eyed. Chaser Inky will not remember to take photographs.
Danger and I left the scene of the deaths of our green armbands and our friends, who still huddled around the one pole which served as their safe zone. But we were soon to see them again, as they didn't end up taking the bus they'd intended. Chaser Inky spied the tip of a head peek behind a corner, and our former loyalties to our friends were gone. I tagged Star5, who was huddled behind a car. We'd also served to split the group into even smaller pieces. I spied and stalked Olly a bit, Danger caught Windy, and soon the four of us were walking again. I spied the tip of another head behind a door column, and another behind a bush. We chased down another group, and one girl made a wrong turn into a parkinglot with no back exit, and a shiny mirrored building behind her reflecting her image as she crouched behind a van. Her armband was soon mine, and I rejoined my crew as we headed downtown. Star5 and Danger took First Ave, and Windy and I stalked Nicollet before we stopped in on the final checkpoint. At this point I had two armbands and some reserve energy (probably from freebasing EmergenC), so Windy and I set out again down Second Ave N. I saw a friend and his crew, and set off running after them, down the street and then up towards the skyways- when trying to figure out where they'd gone, I saw the slightest tip of a head duck behind a pillar down on the street level, ran down and across the street between cars, trying to be quiet. When I reached the pillar I knew there was more than one behind it, so I leapt at them swiping what ended up being three runners in one arm's swing.
I retrieved the armbands and left them to tie on their own chaser bands as I went trying to figure out where my friend and his runner pals had gone. (They'd booked it through the skyways and were long gone, and besides, I hear tell that you can only carry 200lbs of buffalo meat back to the wagon.) I'd lost Windy, who was no longer answering her phone, reconnected with Danger and Star5, and stalked a couple streets more before returning to the final checkpoint, and eventually making our way to the afterparty. I won a lovely trophy, as I'd apparently caught more runners than anyone else, soaked my feet in the hot tub, and felt that having *caught* the end of the night, that it was well worth all the travel.
Beware. Your vegan friend is an urban predator.
P.S. One of my friends who is not on SF0 and has stated their intentions not to join up did make this map to map their progress: http://bit.ly/asC2ls
Journey to the End of the Poem
I forget the city like you forget the air
like you forget the sidewalk
like you forget your feet
and I am dancing with my quarry.
Saturday night and the city is beanstalk heels
and fairy skirts in line for one club or another-
no one notices the wolf in the woods.
I forget the warnings they give girls in the city
stay out of alleyways
stick to the paths you know,
but I am more dog than girl now,
a pink ribbon on my arm
signifies my femininity
less than my wild wind-whipped hair.
I see you behind a pillar and I wave.
You are a quivering rabbit in a bush,
hello bunny, I smile.
Give me the stairs and bushes,
parkinglots and busy streets,
I see you mirrored in the glass wall of the building, bunny.
crouching behind a parked van.
I see you across the street, bunny.
I am a girl with legs that forget groaning muscles
like I forget being alone
like I forget being broke
like I forget anything but finding a fish in this stream.
I am sober among drunks
shuffling like the sleepwalkers
will you see me before I break ranks to chase you.
Bunny, fawn, dove, green-ribboned up the stairs.
I am a warning shot fired into the crowd,
you are glass shattered, your friends scattered,
I want your ribbon in my pocket.
I want you to switch the light-switch on the moon
howl with me. Forget your feet. Chase.