To say this was a rough week might be the understatement of a lifetime.
There was the Marathon, Waco, assassination attempts, MIT/Watertown, flooding in the Midwest, bomb scares and threats here in Denver/Westminster, another Columbine anniversary, and Hitler’s birthday. I’m probably missing something, too. But, really, that’s enough.
I found myself, like most everyone, glued to scanners and Twitter–anxiously awaiting news. Horrified by pictures and other people’s bullshit. Just waiting for something to make sense. But nothing really did. Ever. And holding on to comforting things like the words of dear, old, Fred. And the knowledge that there are still people who run into burning buildings when everyone is screaming and running out. And the knowledge that these heroes often don’t come back.
I found that I was angry. Angry at the people who think violence cures anything–whether it’s a grenade, a shotgun blast, or hateful words spit out in rage. Angry at people who think one tragedy trumps another. That many lives lost somehow make that one life lost less heart-wrenching. Angry that people feel the need to say such things to one another five minutes after bombs went off–when people are sitting next to chunks of flesh on the street–waiting for their cowboy to come take them home. Angry at all the hypocrisy and mass bullshit I absorb from everything every day. I was angry at the people bearing witness who couldn’t even bother to acknowledge it was happening because their hair was frizzy and they stubbed their toe on the door. Angry at those going on tirades about shit that had absolutely nothing to do with anything else. Angry that our President couldn’t comfort me–that he wasn’t screaming like I wanted to. Angry that I had to work, every day, pretending like business mattered at all. Angry that people were with people they merely tolerated rather than loved ones just because money’s so important. Angry that I know our mental health crisis got ten times worse in just a couple days, and that no one will do a goddamn thing about it. But they certainly will take the time to spread hate and fear.
I was angry at those non-Americans in countries just like this one who were smug enough to say unbelievably shitty things about this country. By their judgment and their snark. I was angry and sad for the Syrians who said they understood–but also pointed out their loss–in some inappropriate bid to claim credit for grief they’ve suffered. I was angry at the pundits who insisted on telling me what was truth was before they even understood the magnitude. I was angry at the people telling them to shut up–because who made you administrator? And I was angry at the nothing I could do from this bed. And the stupid itchy incisions and rashes and selfish worry. And all the conspiracy theories racing around my subconscious–of things known and felt–but not entirely proven. I was angry that they were Russian–from my Papa’s homeland–the place that spit him out when he was two. I was angry that their existence would negate his–that the world would forget his immigrant legacy of hard work and unending patriotism in favor of some misguided boy’s selfish rampage. I was angry that their existence would have broken his spirit.
In short, I was angry at humanity and all it is–every day. Including my own.
I’ve lived in Denver for most of my life. I’m a world traveler, but part of me will always be some girl from this sleepy city on the Plains. As much as I love it, I’ve plotted my escape for years. And failed–many a time–to go anywhere. It’s hard to leave everything you’ve ever known. It’s hard to leave them.
But I want to.
And mostly, I’m still here because of timing. Which means fluctuating cash flow. And so, I stay. For now.
And mostly, I’m glad I have. Because Colorado still had things to tell me. But this place feels less mine lately. And so, I bide my time till a better one comes.
For the last little while, Boston has been the landscape of my exodus. A quieter version of NYC, close to everything. Near water. Old. Historic. With good food and weird accents. And the best schools on this planet. My roommate lived there and went to school there. He has friends and family nearby. It’s home for him. And relatively new to me. I’ve been there once or twice–in some other life. And it feels like a place that could be mine.
I want to be near the ocean. I want to sink my feet in sand. I want to be part of something I don’t really understand. I want to stretch and grow beyond my comfort zone. I want to learn. I want seasons and not schizophrenia.
I think this could be the place for those things.
Several months ago, I spent big chunks of time learning the neighborhoods–looking at apartment postings and imagining yellow kitchens in old homes in Back Bay and Cambridge. I looked at mass transit options and schools (specifically BC and BU). I looked at the lakes and the squares on Google Maps. I planned vacations for this summer (which will likely be taken next summer). I told my boyfriend at the time that he should drive down from Toronto and meet me there–that we could drive to Vermont and meet my roommate in Maine. An epic roadtrip–our first together. I started dreaming of a life where I was not this girl. I was someone else–someone happy and in love with life and living her dream. Someone who wasn’t haunted by the past and only lived for the future.
And this is nothing new. There were other places and boys and dreams. None of which ended up being right. But, for a while, they were things I could hold onto on bad days–days like Monday, when the world is insane and heartbreaking. When you’re in the midst of some identity crisis of mass proportion, and you really have no idea where you’ll be in six months.
On Monday, I winced. Because while I’ve never lived in Boston, some part of me knows that place. Knows what the people sound like. Knows how the air feels. Knows its crazy traffic. Looks up at its buildings in awe of age and time. And sits on a meditation mat in a yellow kitchen, drinking tea.
When I was younger, I struggled a lot with my weight. There are many reasons why. And one day, I decided to change. I started working out to these tapes–Elle McPherson and Walk Away the Pounds. I’d do them in my tiny bedroom, until I was strong enough to start walking. And then I started running.
It was not really a good idea for me. Running, that is. I have asthma, and my doctor never quite got on board with the idea. It’s mostly exercise-induced. In my old neighborhood, people didn’t run. You stayed inside, unless you had to go somewhere…and then you went–quietly and quickly. You didn’t dawdle, really. Dawdling meant you might get mugged or shot. I’d run in the dark, most days, because I didn’t want people to see me. To hear me breathing. Which was even worse, because the people out then were always up to no good. And it sucked. A lot. I was slow, and I had to stop–a lot. But it got easier, and eventually, running–especially for long distances–became my thing. It’s what saved me when my mother was dying. And it’s probably how I lost most of the weight.
When people hear you’ve run a marathon, or that you run regularly, they think you’re a badass. That you’re disciplined and awesome or something. But I never was any of that. I was a whiny, slow, frustrated runner most days. I hated running every day. Until I was almost done, I’d curse every second. I am not graceful or fast. I sweat like a pig and pant like I’m dying. But I kept doing it because, when it was over, I felt better.
At some point, though, I got injured. Hurt my knee. Had procedures done to repair it. Stubbornly tried to run when I wasn’t ready and hurt myself again. And again. And then, my body started fighting me every step of the way on just about everything. And, so, I stopped. Decided it was time to rest…to stop forcing things to go the way I wanted them to go and just accept that maybe I’m not meant to be a runner. Maybe, I never was.
Only–in doing that–I learned that I kinda am. Because being a runner isn’t about the glory times or being fast. Or even about sweating like a pig or breathing like you’re dying. It’s about working through the pain and knowing you can do things. It’s about being in your body and on that ground and feeling your way out of it. It’s about living and letting go of who you think you are. It’s about going, especially when you think you can’t.
Since then, I’ve thought about trying. But my knee has never really bounced back. Swimming is more my thing. And though, I’ve intended to get out there and try every so often–I’ve been afraid. Mostly of the things I dealt with in the past. Of my breath, of pain, of my body, of my own frailty. And maybe my own strength.
A lot has changed since the beginning of this month. Being homebound has been annoying–though I usually chose home before the surgery happened. I’ve isolated myself for a while now–without realizing it–because I haven’t felt well and I had work/school to suck up all my time. Working from home, it’s easy to be a hermit. I’m an introvert, so I rarely get bored with this alone time–and actually kinda need it.
Having to stay in bed all day, not being able to exercise or even lift my cats, feeling out of it or being in pain? All of that has made me impatient with this solitary life. I’d kill to go on a roadtrip. The cabin fever is terrible. Sometimes, I walk back and forth to the bathroom just so I don’t have to sit anymore. I’m incredibly bored, and I know–come May, when I’m finally cleared to swim and lift things–I’m going to spend every day in the pool. I will likely go bonkers with driving all over the state too. And I have birthday trips already planned in my head.
I miss the mundane, though. Stupid things like riding the bus (something I haven’t done in years now that I do the car share thing). Listening to people going about their day. Running in the park with all my neighbors and their kids and their dogs. Smiling at strangers. Picking up pieces of them and me as I go through the day. There is something visceral about walking or running down the blocks of the places you love. You absorb something that is both you and not you. You learn, and you grow. You get inspired, and you start to see how things connect. I miss that, terribly.
I’m noticing it more now, as I’m bored and alone most days. Even though I’m back to work, I don’t feel connected to the people I talk to. I don’t feel like I can be me. I feel starved for human contact. As I try to write, I find it difficult to express myself–hard to be inspired. I felt like this long before the surgery, and I had plans to change how I spent my days. So, it’s particularly hard to accept now that I’ve been forced to do what I unconsciously chose to do for a while now.
I keep remembering that I chose these jobs so I could be free–so I could have options to go anywhere I chose and still be stable. I feel less able to do that with this job than my last one–what with standardized everything and micromanagers in full-force. But being still and bored for so long, I’m determined to get out of here as quickly as I can.
On Tuesday, I decided to be a runner again.
Maybe it was the Marathon. Or everything coming together at once. I dunno. But I decided I needed goals in my life–reasons to keep moving–to remember myself and honor myself and be in it. I decided to train. Because I need something hard. I need something to help me breathe and listen to myself. And I decided that–someday–I’m going to run the Boston Marathon. I will wear a bib that will have my Mama’s name on it, and I will raise money for heart disease.
And I will probably be living in Boston then.
And I will be in school again–studying psychology. And probably working too hard. And paying for it all, by myself. And living in an old house with a yellow kitchen and a meditation nook in the corner, where I will drink tea. And I will drive up the coast sometimes, squish my toes in the sand, as a woman who has faced down her past and only embraces the moment.
That is my intention and my hope. That is something to hold onto.
And maybe, then, I’ll finally feel like I’m home.