I gave you a wrap-up in July, so I guess it’s only fair I report on how August has gone now that summer is basically over. I started work this week, and Free (as well as my students) go back to school next week, so playtime is over. Surprisingly, I haven’t fallen off any mental or emotional cliffs so far. I am hoping all this work on finding happiness is starting to pay off.
In August, I made a lot of progress on my goal to clean stuff out at home, but I didn’t make a dent on home decorating or accomplish all that much with my writing goals (Ireland vignettes and literary terms sampler). Most likely, my posts will get shorter (to the relief of my loyal blogmate readers, I’m sure) as I return to my work routine and tackle those goals more frequently in freewriting form.
August brought more family time, camping with Newman and his children and bonding with Free at the pow-wow, the local town beach, and on short runs and bike rides through our neighborhood. Our baby birds finally left the nest, pushed out in an un-gentle fashion by one of their parents; ironically, Newman watched the first baby awkwardly flutter its way to the ground on the same week he drove his son to college, emptying his own nest a little more. With all the family time, Newman and I bumped awkwardly up against another reminder that blended families need time and effort to adjust to new relationships, and we also took some time to reconnect as a couple separate from all our other loved ones.
Overall, I had time to be with those I love, to do the things I love, and to find quiet peaceful spaces for myself.
August also brought a new goal with my half-marathon training getting underway, and that is what I really want to freewrite on for today.
Thwack thwack thwack. My pink shoes slap the road as I slosh through thick hot air, my sunscreen already losing its battle to stick as sweat overrules it, collecting in my eyebrows and above my lips, sliding easily away as I flick my fingers across my face. Breathe in, breathe out, watch for cars watch for cars and don’t forget to watch for cars. Sometimes on these new longer runs, when I need music to get me through, I forget; even though the music is low, it’s easy to be surprised by a car that whips around a corner too fast or comes too close, close enough that if I tripped on a branch or bump, as I sometimes do, I might fall straight into its path…Stop. Stop that thought and breathe, in and out and in again and when I run a little faster my breathing changes: in two steps, out two or is it three?
Thwack thwack thwack I hear the beat and pick up speed as I move on out along the road up that hill that always slows me down I will not make it I will not make it I have to make it don’t stop There. I’ve made it and the rest is easy but not really when my thighs burn like they do and ever since I added more runs, I feel it in my thighs and the sides of my feet where there are almost blisters, becoming calluses, and I must show them to Free because she is my callus queen with her six sets of pull-ups and pushups and flips and bar-work and whatnot and whozits. Her hands are rough and patchy and strong, and now so are my feet.
I lower my arms when I remember and breathe deeper and look up a little ways, not just down at my feet. Form is important, but I forget it when I’m feeling the run the most. I know the roads better and better each day. I know their turns and heat and hardness; I watch their roadkill evolve and decay over days and weeks, and I know their shade and sun. I feel them not rising to me but waiting for me, perhaps, and when I raise my hand or smile at other runners and bikers, I wonder if the roads wait for them too. Breathe in, out, thwack thwack. I hate to stop when I have to for a shoelace or car or tractor or God forbid a dog. I hope there are no dogs. Not long now, not far to go, on the homestretch. The turnaround point is my friend, except for the longer runs because then I feel it all on the way back too much.
I’m looking down again and see my feet keep moving without me; they just keep moving on their own and the rest of me just watching, my belly moving in and out and getting bigger, even, maybe, lately, with these runs and the extra food I crave afterwards. And then a colleague says “you’re like one of those people who can eat and never get bigger” and looks askance at the dessert I pick for lunch, and I look at her and don’t know what to say. Because she’s too thin, I think, and because it’s just dessert, after all, and because I am bigger than her and she’s calling me tiny, and because it’s a silly thing to say, and because she doesn’t really mean anything by it, and all I can think is thwack, thwack, thwack and then I remember in a flash that first moonlit run at ten years old in a grainy wet field and see myself eating and running and my whole life, I think, can almost come down to these twin things and their relationship to each-other, and then I see in my colleague’s face this downward twisted mouth and she is still talking, saying “if I ate that…” and I want to push my plate to her and say, “yes, eat, please eat this and taste it, it is so good.”
And she means nothing at all by any of it, except maybe to compliment me or fill the dead air, and I know this, but I also know that food talk sometimes feels dangerous among women, and that I don’t know how or like to do it except with friends who also know how to eat, which is with pleasure and not to the point where you will make yourself sick or not like who you are. Stop. I know I am lucky to love to eat and be free of all that and I am lucky also to love to run and to enjoy each in their own time. And I know soon I will lace up my pink shoes and don my neon orange shirt and, watching for cars, I will head out again on the road, which has been waiting for me. And sometimes it will wait longer and that, too, is ok; it will always be there, long and gray and waiting, and whether I look up or down or in or out, it won’t mind at all. Thwack, thwack, thwack. It won’t mind at all.