The other day I was feeling down after work. I missed my family. I felt out of shape. I felt overwhelmed: Why can't I keep one studio apartment clean? Why can't I remember to make a stupid dentist appointment? I decided to go on a short run. A blend of melodramatic and self-pitying thoughts trickled through my mind as I jogged sluggishly down the street. I paused for a red light, and a young man on a bicycle stopped next to me on the curb. He was tall and burly, with a long beard; his arms were covered in tattoos and his earlobes stretched with gauges. His bicycle was a bit too small and looked as if it might snap under his weight, which added a light comic aspect to his otherwise intimidating appearance. He glanced at me and smiled.
"Man, I hate running. How many miles have you gone?" he asked.
Startled, I glanced at my shoes and mumbled that I was not a good runner and had done only a couple of miles at best.
"Nah, dude, that's awesome. Good for you. Running is hard." The light changed and he biked away.
I wanted to sprint after him and hug him. That small, perfect moment--encouragement from a curious stranger on a bike--began to define Ann Arbor for me.