When I was sixteen all I cared about were books & boys (well, hundreds of books and just one boy). I knew next to nil about being a proper lady. I barely stopped to comb my rat’s nest hair or clean under my fingernails. My idea of fun was an afternoon rowing on the sparkling ocean; working the oars hard until callouses and muscles defined my activity. Being on the water was my true sanctuary. At rest, my fingers would trail in the cold Atlantic while the sun baked my shoulders to golden brown. On land I ran just as dirty wild and tomboy free.
These days I sit in an office, staring at a computer screen. I’m even seen wearing presentable clothes and high heels. But. But, But! Even though I still have the chestnut brown hair (still barely combed) and weigh only nine pounds more than my sixteen year old self, I feel miles and miles away from my island days and my wild ways. These days, the child in me questions what happened to the worry free. I can answer me. The reality is I’m having a Gerard Manley Hopkins moment. In Spring and Fall To a Young Child, I am Margaret.
There is something to be said about the number sixteen. A defining age but a more definite distance. On Saturday I channeled my sixteen year old self and went for a sixteen mile run. 16.11 miles to be exact. I learned a myriad of things on this Saturday: hydration belts do not stay on my hips after seven miles; a woman walking a harnessed cat is funnier than a man trying desperately to rein in two hyper border collies; tight formation track teams will always remind me of the movie Juno; and last but not least, sixteen miles is chocolate cake. The frosting? A 60 second sprint because my legs, my knees, my everything felt great. My reward? A heavy stein of maple-oatmeal stout and a cheeseburger smothered in messy bbq sauce, bacon and jalapenos.
The next morning I decided to bury my sixteen year old self. I decided I don’t want her back. What lives in me now is the fire to do more at my here-and-now age. The wild is still definitely with me.