For Caroline, RE: running.
Something I wrote September 1, 2010, about my hatred of running turning into an obsession with running:
The good news: my blood pressure has slowed its roll and the shoulder/neck/back pain garbage seems to have (for the most part) peaced outta this bitch. ..With a few little bits of Mt. Vicodin to spare for whenever I feel the need to dull other pains. Like reality, for instance.
The bad news: I am well and seeing straight. Which means I should do as I said I would when I wasn’t blinded by radiating pain and take all the oil and water of the everyday world out of the “fireproof box” I’ve locked it in and just deal, O.G. style.
But as it turns out, I’d rather not set my glass of Jameson down.
Cause seriously, reality can gobble a dick.
I think even my friends are starting to get seasick living vicariously through me. There’s a lot to wade through. No one knows what to say. So I mostly change the subject to the retail therapy I’ve been indulging in or the arson I’ve been plotting that I’ll [probably] never act on.
The arson is Paint Chips II’s fault. Every time I see her she’s mumbling "gonna burn this place to the ground.." under her breath and I really don’t blame her. This mantra is what has gotten us through the last couple of weeks. That and also shared daydreams of working at Jimmy John’s and starting a newspaper called the Neighborhood Influence.
I have no plans of organizing a two-woman band called Captain Bringdown and the Buzzkills or anything emo like that, though. So our mantra has slowly changed tunes. Neither of us are content being the type of person who reasons “maybe if I complain enough the situation will correct itself automatically!” Momma didn’t raise no fool.
I’m polishing things up, digging, talking, organizing, buying silk blouses and Calvin Klein suits. Not just for therapy, but in preparation. And in the meantime, keeping a smile on my face–hoping maybe it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy or at least be interpreted as me showing my teeth/not messing around here.
Then there’s also the fact that fortunately/unfortunately Lou has agreed to disagree with her personal life as well. So on weekends we get all gussied up and attend premier parties & fashion shows, interrupt live podcasts, sell party hats to strangers, turn headlights on girls we bust peeing in parking lots and sometimes return home to climb up 3 flights of stairs with the wrong shoes on the wrong feets.
Which is lovely and all, but all I really and truly want to do at the moment is go for a run because it’s really the only solid thing that’s advancing the plot. Even driving home from downtown the other night I passed the old track I used to do speed work on and had an overwhelming urge to pull over and pick up my feet. Obviously very consuming, this hankering. To outweigh whisky in troublesome times is no joke.
And the funny thing is, I can trace back to the exact moment when something clicked. About one month and a week ago. It was so early in the morning it was almost late night, the moon was full, the sky was clear, I was about to leap over train tracks when it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks:
I love this.
I’ve always felt this rapt attention to detail while swimming. I approach water full of an unmistakable, naked delight and a heavy gratitude of the ability to move move move. I love the way it feels to reach, I love the way it feels to pull, I love the even glide that results. The ring sinkies won’t fit around my feet anymore, but I am still the little mermaid goshdarnit. I still feel hypnotized by every movement I make in the water and I always had a feeling that it somehow could be translated to other motions like running, I just didn’t know how.
Turns out all it took was a shift in mental approach. When I’m on the tennis court for the first time in a long time, I have to adopt the mantra You know this to ease myself back into the motions. I started figuring if that works on the court, maybe I can ease myself into the motions of running. After all, I had started absorbing the wizardry of the book Born to Run and believing that this need to move is in fact innate. Somewhere within myself I know it, or something like it:
How to swim like the little mermaid, bike with childish glee or sprint through the sprinklers. Really it’s a matter of just accessing a much younger place in the soul and abandoning the thought of these motions as a means to an end. (Or even a punishment for wearing the wrong colored shirt on the wrong day/losing matches to unseeded players etc etc. Thanks, Coach Brown, for the association.)
"The art of combining our breath and mind and muscles into fluid self-propulsion"
"His love of life shone through every movement"
An art. Certain runners as "body artists, who were playing with the palette of human endurance." This is why I want to buy whatever Christopher McDougall is selling: the language of his book is very poetic, so it’s only natural that I’ve been seduced by it.
So ever since that leap over the train tracks, when everything came at me from five different directions at once–making it both inescapable and awesome–my steps have been ravenous. I have been nerding out hardcore at the asscrack of dawn like a fiend.
My feet are starting to look like proper toreup runners feet, bloody toes that like to squish each other and all. When my alarm goes off in the a.m. and I am lying in bed, there is a voice in my head that’s screaming “We can’t stay here! We must take to the streets!” There’s no getting anything over with. There’s glances down at my watch and disappointment with the realization that I’m supposed to be almost done. There’s lots of bargaining for just 10 more minutes… that’s all..
There’s intentional silence, finding a meditative calm in my own breath and lots of reciting my favorite poem over and over and over. I don’t forget the beginning of the 7th stanza anymore, I understand the entirety of it in a different way. My steps fall in sync with the meter. I sometimes get goosebumps in triple digit heat.
So even though in my professional and personal life I am surrounded by thickening plots, I am okay. I have movement. I have something that reminds me that I am much stronger than I think I am, something that allows me to experience myself very vividly and reminds me how tough we have to be to survive the delicacy of it all. I am keeping a straight back, reaching only within my center of gravity and landing on the ball of my foot. As long as I keep looking up everything, eventually, will fall into place.