My fortune cookie read, “Everlastng impact with compassion and kindness is called love.” Endless influence accompanying sensitivity and affection is known as endearment.
AS I emerge from the darkest clouds of my life I thought of myself as a snake, slowing shedding skin; pulling away from the dry old husk of a life that weighed me down. But, with that analogy the snakeskin remains; discarded as it may be. The crumpled existence remains as a reminder of the old. I want to shed darkness like water dripping from my skin onto hot stones; the droplets evaporating almost as soon as they land. Steam rising where tears had been. My skin washed clean.
I haven’t been writing here because so much of my time has been writing over there. On a personal level I couldn’t dig deep enough to confess anything here. Meanwhile over there, I talk. A lot. The words I say are just not the words you want to hear.
On July 29th I ran my first race since April 22nd. The story of my struggle is written in the days I have(n’t) run. Two weeks before Nancy’s race I took myself outside and ran four times up and down my neighborhood hill. Four runs since April. Surprisingly enough, all four were pain free. First time in two years I could say that. After each one I held my breath, expecting the routine to pick up where it left off: stabbing pain, gritted teeth, finally succumbing to pain meds and insomniactic pacing until the drugs kick in. An endless cycle of not knowing today from tomorrow, never mind next week. [July 4th I was on Monhegan and experienced the worst pain of my journey. I couldn’t hike, couldn’t sleep, sitting was worse, was barely breathing. The thought of running was akin to unicorns and fairy dust, a figment of my overtired imagination. I was positive my run days were over.]
July 29th I ran a four miler in 41 minutes. 41 minutes but I walked part of it. Let me explain this hill at the end. I have to explain this hill. It was the kind of hill that looked like a mountain from the bottom; straight up and never ending. It was the kind of steep hill I used to tackle with eyes closed. My strategy has always been to shut my eyes, dig in and fight my way up the incline until I felt it level out under my feet. Only this hill never seemed to go away. Ten times worse than any hill on the St. Pat’s route. This hill was horrendous. I would open my eyes to find it still there, still just as steep and just as never ending. I started to question my forward progression. Was I really going up this hill? Or, was I standing still? Was I trying to run up the down escalator? Finally, I stopped. Just to check my sanity. It took someone coming up behind me to wake me out of my stupor. There was still plenty of hill left to tackle, but I powered up it. The old me was in there somewhere.
I haven’t run since that day. For now I’m content to imagine how the race would have gone had I been running all this time; how I could have tackled that hill had I been better trained. I’m proud of my 41 minutes. The course was riddled with similar steep inclines but that last one…that last one had my number.
But. But! But, here the thing – I know I’m on the road to recovery because even though that hill had my number it’s now calling my name. I will be back. Thanks to that hill, and its everlasting impact, I will be back.
My fortune cookie read, “Everlastng impact with compassion and kindness is called love.” Endless influence accompanying sensitivity and affection is known as endearment.
I have come to the conclusion that I’m not really crazy, just mad. Yesterday I wrote something about lazy people, inconsiderate people, people who yawn their way through life and how much they all anger me. I think I got mad because they simply don’t care. They don’t have enough decency to think one way or another about how their actions influence or even hurt others. Indifference can be worse than hate in my book. Didn’t the Barenaked Ladies write a song about becoming dulled to life? Pinch Me? Something like that is happening to people around me. Pinch them.
Take my married friend. You would never know that he is married by the way he carries on with another individual. Under the guise of friendship the flirting flows freely. Under the guise of “just friends” they stand just too close, talk just too low. He’s too casual about everything. Casual and uncaring. Everyone talks about this relationship yet no one thinks of the wife at home. The wife in the dark. What about her? His indifference could kill her.
What is the lesson from all this? It’s really none of my business. In a didactic moment here’s what I have to say: I’ve been on the pedestal of self-importance before. Standing on my personal soapbox of sorrows and sins. Blah, blah, blah. Do me a favor. Pinch me. Better yet – Kick me. Kick me off my high horse if you see me in full disregard for other people’s feelings. I know I’m guilty of leaving my manners at the door from time to time. I may have my reasons. Make me make sure they make sense to both of us. I’ve made assumptions about my loved ones and exactly how much trampling they can take because they love me back. I’ve been there and done that. Again and again. “Turn my head with indifference…”
Can anyone explain time? Can anyone explain a year in time? I haven’t written for four months. Not because I’ve been busy. Because I haven’t. I’m still reading. Still hobbling through a few miles and even less races. Everything is same old- same old except it isn’t. Time has changed everything and I don’t know where to start. But. But! But I’m even more afraid of where this will end.
So. Here it was. A year ago I was outside of myself with grief. It was like I crawled out of my common sense and went crazy. Certifiably. I made myself sick with the unknowing; knowing I didn’t have the right to know more. I did everything in my power to not care; to not communicate; to not commit to coming forward. I did everything I could to let go. Except Let. Go. Deep in the back of my clicking mind I clung to what was, wrongly so.
So. Here it is. You and you are back in my life. Two Yous that don’t make a whole lot of sense.
You are the unexpected train wreck I delicately stepped aside for thirty-one years ago. You have continued down your tracks of destruction for years and years and now, after all this time, I stand blindly in the way, willing and wanting you to hit me head on. Why?
And You. You are the avalanche that coldly pushed me aside five years ago. Gentle and without violence you froze me to immobility and then angled me out of the way. You could have buried me beneath your ice but you chose to rumble by, barely letting me breathe. I was left standing and staring, wrecked and wracked in the wake of your leaving. Now, after all this time, I stand blindly in the way, willing and wanting you to say my name. Why?
Did you ever dream so hard that when you woke up you lost your reality ? The dream has you dislocated because it was the real road map in your mind’s eye. Waking is the lie. I dream of You without train whistles and steam. I dream of You without white swirling snow. I dream but I die either way.
I ran a half marathon this weekend after two failed attempts to reach even eight miles. My sea of obsession has dried up. There is not enough water left to drink let alone drown. I now know what happened to You. And to You. Here. All I know is it is here.
I like plotting. I like organization. I think what I loved about training for the Vegas mara two years ago was all the scheduling and time management. I had to do it. No questions asked. It was so simple to open a planner and see my whole life carefully mapped out, hour by hour. Like a road map. Point A start here. Point B end there. But. But! But, where’s Waldo these days?
Where am I? These days I miss that structure. Here’s the deal – when the black cloud descends you suddenly have trouble seeing the plan for all the shadows in the way. You go blind to what’s important. Then, you lose sight of what’s necessary. You get to a point where your days are so dark you don’t care about the map. You’re so far in the weeds you can’t find your way anywhere, let alone home. All of 2017 was like that for me. I became obsessed with a dark, undulating ocean because drowning seemed so…what? Peaceful? Freeing? Final? I was actually lulled into thinking the sea was my new road map. My answer to everything.
I’ve been given a new map. But, just like Richard in Tommy Boy, I need to figure out what state I’m in before I take off. It’s a process. Just getting six hours of uninterrupted sleep is like waking up in a foreign country. I don’t know how to speak the language of well rested. Just being pain free for five consecutive days is bionic in nature. I might be able to return to the gym in a week. I am only sure of one thing right now. I have the green light to run. This week. As in tomorrow. Someone threw me a life ring. Now it’s up to me to hang on.
“Your time will come if you wait for it, if you wait for it” (Imagine Dragons – Amsterdam).
I am having a shirt-on-backwards discombobulated kind of week. I haven’t written much here because it was all about the run and since the run wasn’t happening there didn’t seem to be much to say. In truth, I don’t know why I say that. I ran a few races in 2017, including a half mara while injured. I PR’ed St. Pat’s, ran a new 10K and completed a Thanksgiving to New Years streak of running every day. I finished 2017 with over 350 miles and yet, I still have nothing to say. Let’s face it. I can admit it now. 2017 was a bad, bad year.
It started in early March with intense pain everywhere. Doctors and X-rays and physical therapy did nothing for me. I ended up learning to live in pain. Day in and day out. I breathed pain. What I couldn’t do was sleep with in pain. The nights haunted me. By day I became an exhausted walking zombie, surviving each passing day by rote repetition. One foot in front of the other. Not loving life. Not even liking it.
Now it is 2018 and I am three appointments into an intense chiropractic year. After a two-hour evaluation Dr. Fancy Pants sat me down and urged to think of myself as disabled. Dis-what? Truth be known, my hips, back and neck are so damaged I could apply for a handicap placard no questions asked. I’d get one without argument. One look at my scans and I am special olympic material. I’m that messed up. Bottom line – I’ve been trying to run with a severe disability and it will take a year to get me back on track. It will take all the king’s army an entire year to put me back together again. So, for now I work towards fixing this broken barbie doll body. For now, I forget about the run.
Doctor’s King’s orders.
It has been a month since I heard the news. It’s been a month of doing absolutely nothing. By choice. But, But. but! Isn’t that what they say? The choice to do nothing is still doing something? I chose to ignore.
In truth I ran in purple this weekend with you in mind. Doesn’t that contradict everything I said I feel? Nothing I said I would do? A prince’s power to make me think of you. A Purple Reign. The night before I got the word. You are still a heartbeat; alive and kicking they say. You just don’t have as much to say. Duly noted. I won’t say it either.
But, let me back up and just say “But, I ran.” I know I will sound like someone else when I offer up excuses, but they are all true. I wasn’t feeling well before the Purple Run. I was tempted to turn a ten into a five and call it good. No. I could only tell myself came here to run. Not make my excuses. The temptation was fleeting and gone before I could really chew on it. Instead I threw up.
This was a good run, all things considered. A solid sub ten minute mile the entire way. Through crowds of meandering families strolling with their strollers and dogs I managed to break an hour. Boston in my ear, telling me he’s going to buy me a beer…right after a run to the Dunk. It’s only an app but it had me giggling. I like my Boston.
I have moved on from this. I’m setting my sights on a half. My first since September. I have moved on.
Here’s the trouble with self induced amnesia: when you want to remember you are not even sure you can. Maybe you no longer have the permission. The knowing is lost for always.
When I try to remember the you I wanted to forget I am cursed with the insecurity of believing I’m no longer allowed. I am the one who said Done with You, my unfriend. Off with your head I cried! But. But! But, the curse upon hearing my words, instead decided upon your mind.
Every time I think of you the corners of my mind are crowded with uninvited ghosts. The self destruction. The frantic come-now-go behavior. The confusion and the breaking of hearts. I walked away to save my selfish self but in doing so I lost the right to ask you about you. Does that mean I lost the right to care?
I am now reduced to friends of friends texting. The sly begging for slivers of information. The trepidation of being shut out. The potential to be shunned because I’m the one who shut down. Or, was that you? Chronologically, you did it first. You’ll do it last, thanks to the danger that curls around your curls.
Do I deserve to ask? Do I deserve to know? No. I know I can’t know. I stumbled and staggered away because you pushed. Now I miss you without having the right to say the words outloud. I’m so nobody that there is no one who will think to think of me. Maybe Seriously should know is not a decision anyone deems significant enough to decide.
Confessional: I tapped a friend on the shoulder and whispered Should I know? behind your back. I think I only want permission to stay gone without guilt. If granted I shall sink back into the primordial unknowing and pretend I never heard. This girl can go back to faking amnesia with a callous air of disregard.
“…wishing she had never spoken your name; had never known your name.”
Where do I begin? Where did I leave off? So much to say there’s too much to say. Let’s try nutshells, shall we?
Running: January saw 24.25 miles. I’m okay with that number because I was insane at the end of 2016, running practically every single freaking day. January was my rest month. February was a little better: 40.6 miles, thanks to the St. Pat’s nemesis I always blather about. March kicked off with 13.7 miles in the first week. I have skipped a few runs to…wait for it…to weight lift with a certified bodybuilder trainer. I figure if I’m going to punch someone I need to be strong enough to knock them out! Just kidding. I called truce with the nemesis, by the way. I have yet to walk a single step…and, and. And! I find myself with a new PR: 1 hr 4 seconds. The cool thing is, I didn’t “race” this run. I spent the first four miles cruising, just looking for my friend. Once I found him and decided he wasn’t staying with me, I took off. It kills me that I spent only two miles of the run trying to race!
Next up: a NEW 10k for April. This one is a head scratcher. The race director emailed the runners and asked us to decide on the course: did we want to run laps (um. no) or go long. I voted long. Of course.
Books: I read 10 books in January, 9 in February & I’ve finished 7 already this month. That’s what I get for reading Truman Capote, Adimchinma Ibe, David Halberstam, Barbara Gowdy, Marianne Leone, and Laura Esquivel’s incredibly short books.
Music: I have already heard Trey Anastasio. On the horizon I have plans to see Natalie Merchant (of course), The Dead (of course), Phish (of course) and Sean Rowe (of course) before the summer is over.
Truth be told, the summer hasn’t even begun so who knows who will be added to the list.
Travel: Maine, California, Alaska, New York. Not necessarily in that order. More on that later.
I consistently misspell January. Judging by the mistake I know I’ll be misspelling February for the next 28 days, too. It’s a question of typing too fast. My fingers can’t keep up with what my brain has finished saying.
It’s been three weeks and a few days since my last confessional. I think I left you on a treadmill in Rockland, Maine. What to tell you now? Where am I now? January just left the building. I ran a total of 24.85 miles for the entire month. Yes, that point eighty five does matter. I’ll tell you why. Because, with a week off from the run, I have been able to return to my steady pace of 10:24 -> 10:03. That’s huge. By the end of 2016 I was warming up (read: limping along) at a 12 minute mile pace and barely getting above that for the duration of the rest of the run. True, by the end of December I was running more miles in one week than I had in the entire month of January, but speed was pretty pathetic at the end. I like where I’m at now. Seriously
In other news, I have returned to a pretty consistent yoga routine and get this…I promised four people (six if you include myself and moi) I would join a real, honest to goodness (gulp) gym if I got a raise. And. I got a raise. So there’s that. To be fair, I haven’t joined yet. I’m waiting for a few mini turbulences to pass. More on that another time.
Lastly, Question – what do you get when you cross a librarian with a runner with less mileage on her schedule and more time on her hands? Answer – a woman with more books finished. I was able to cross ten titles off the challenge list.
I’m short on time so I can’t tell you the latest with New Guinea or about the jet stream I’m about to enter…Until next time.
Remember me? I was the one who said she would take a break from running. I was the one who said she would concentrate on pulling tight muscles out of their angry knots. That lasted exactly a week.
For seven days straight I dutifully put in an hour of yoga. For seven days I obediently ignored the treadmill’s silent stare while I gently teased out the troubled spots. I had gotten so tight I couldn’t reach the floor with fingertips. I had gotten so bound up I couldn’t look over my shoulders. I needed the time away from the tread. Until Rockland.
Okay, okay. Technically, Thomaston. Do you care? The Kisa and I went to Maine for a belated holiday celebration with my family. Staying in a hotel means the pool for him and a different treadmill for me. How could I say no? How could I break with tradition?
Sunday morning found me & myself staring at the hotel’s only traitor tread’s display screen, ready to fly. With borrowed earbuds (why do I always forget my own?) I found my girl power playlist (I’m in love with Sia now). With my family in the other room eating an illegal breakfast, I climbed aboard another Guinea. With my heart in my throat, I started running 22 seconds faster than my normal warmup. I wanted to see if my speed was lost for good or if the time away did me some good. The latter. True, I only ran for 25 minutes but almost cleared three miles. And, and, and! It wasn’t torture to grocery shop afterwards. Walking down the aisles, looking for Bixby chocolate for Ruby Tuesday, I felt as if the short run just minutes before never even happened. A month ago I would have been hobbling. Progress.
I don’t start officially training for the 10km for another three days. In that time I plan to go back to ignoring the treadmill and scrutinizing the tightness in my quads, hips and lower back. Wish me luck.