On November 3, 2015, I shared this post announcing that I was beginning to run again after months of not running. I did this partly for accountability, but also because I wanted everyone else to join me in pursuing a deferred dream. Let’s do this, I said. TOGETHER, I said.
It was a post aimed at inspiration. I felt
That was 818 days ago.
And I didn’t begin to run again. A few times, sure. Then too many hurdles blocked my way.
The launching of book(s).
The walking of dog(s).
The emptying of nest(s). <—To be fair, it was just the one nest. My only nest. Our best, most-important nest. (And do you notice how even as I write this, I make it sound as if none of it was in my control?)
Anyway, what I’m saying is one thing led to another, and I found myself not-running for two years, two months, and twenty-six days.
In writing group, someone says something along the lines of “I hate running,” to which someone else replies, “everyone hates running” and she’s being hyperbolic (I think she’s being hyperbolic) but the words humming in my own head are
I like to run.
So. Why the hell wasn’t I running? Why had I been wandering around like a ghost, like a shell of myself in our silent house, waiting for Bill to come home from work? I felt
I had no desire to do anything or see anyone besides a handful of friends and family, which is a slippery slope for someone like me who’s genetically predisposed to letsjuststayinthehouse-ishness. <—If that’s not a real diagnosis, it should be.
Plus terrible stuff was devastating people close to me. People far from me. Death. Divorce. Discrimination. Disaster <—both natural and human. The news was so damn depressing. Instead of all the joys, I started counting up sadnesses.
What’s your problem, Julie? Who are you to wallow in your own small disappointments? I felt
And all the while those words kept humming:
I like to run.
One day, after privatelyhopefullysecretly thinking I might want to try running again (but don’t tell anyone this time, because how embarrassing if you don’t) I get this text from my nephew:
“Quick question: What was your marathon time?”
Turns out he’s thinking about signing up. He’d be much faster than I ever was. But still. Maybe
While cleaning the garage, I find in an old pair of Asics covered in mud. I don’t remember owning them, but the shoes I’d been wearing to walk the dog are packed out and awful. So I throw the mystery Asics in the washing machine (with apologies to footwear purists) and the shoes clean up pretty nicely.
A few days pass and I make a playlist on my phone of trusty songs I listened to five years ago when I used to run with an iPod. (I lost the iPod in our house fire, then stopped running with music.)
As a treat, I also download five new songs to spur me. I don’t think too much about the song choices or the lyrics; I don’t think much about anything.
If I think too much, I won’t follow through.
On Sunday afternoon, January 28th, 2018, I pull on my newly-washed old Asics. The dogs look at me like “What do you mean we can’t come?” I feel
Outside the wind is howling.
The air temperature hovers at 80 degrees.
I have a full stomach of turkey sandwich.
My house sits on a long, steep hill. To travel anywhere, you go downdowndown and then up.
And up and up.
Stop thinking, Julie. Stop excus-ing.
I press play on Judah and the Lion’s “Suit and Jacket,” then push off.
Down. Down. Down.
“Cause everybody I know, everybody I know, is growing old, is growing old too quickly. And I don’t wanna go, no how am I supposed to slow it down so I can figure out who I am?”
Are you sure you picked this song accidentally, Julie?
At the bottom of the hill, I turn left and the wind blasts my face. I throw open both arms and they blow back as cars drive by and I don’t care that I look ridiculous. The music propels me, and I breathe and push, and then the next song starts.
Blink 182’s “Bored to Death.”
“Back on earth I’m broken. Lost and cold and fading fast. Life is too short to last long.”
FOR REAL, JULIE?
I’d been downloading a theme, and I didn’t see it:
Life is short. Time won’t slow for me. We’re growing older and letsjuststayinthehouse-ishness serves no one.
My energy surges and I pick up the pace, stride lengthening, heart pumping. Around the park I continue in the heat and wind, and I don’t stop. This surprises me but I can’t think about it. As I head home, I’m almost flying (except it’s the slowest kind of flying you can imagine). Still, my fists pump to the music, and I sing a little— just a few words, probably too loud—and I look even more ridiculous than before, but I am running, I am running, I am running, and I feel
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