An Empty Crooked House

The Crooked House — Mr. and Mrs. Rogers’ summer cottage for nearly 50 years — sits empty next door. King Friday’s kingdom away from the Kingdom of Make Believe is sad, and quiet. With the steely gray skies overhead and crisp fall breeze blowing through the dune grass, so am I.

I had hoped to see Mrs. Rogers this weekend to add my remembrances to her pile of well-wishes, and speak with her about my documentary proposal, the memoir I call ‘Mister Rogers & Me’. I brought the painting I’d pledged to send Mr. Rogers so many months ago, before he died (too soon, too soon) hoping to give it to her as my best expression of ‘deep and simple.’ Instead, I pace the beach, sleep fitfully on the couch, a stare over the dunes to that glorious, imperfect home.

Tomorrow, though, I will make good on my promise to him: I am staging the inaugural run of the Mr. Rogers Madaket Triathlon. The idea came to me last night while talking to my brother. ‘This island needs a triathlon,’ I said. I thought more about it while running this morning: I’d need his family’s permission, municipal support, sponsorship, and racers.

But then I thought, ‘Why wait? Do it now! Alone!’ Perhaps my act of symbolic remembrance — here on the western corner of Nantucket where his presence is most-felt — can launch an annual celebration of him through the simple physical acts of swimming where he swam, running where he ran, and riding where he rode.

And so I have charted the course: a 40m swim, 20k ride, and 5k run. Race time is tomorrow morning, September 2, at 11 a.m. If you’re in the neighborhood, why don’t you join me? There will be blueberry pancakes and Gatorade afterward, and plenty of magic for all.

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