Moments of Euphoria
I have always been very active but I have learned to be still.
I was raised running. I was born in motion and I have remained so. My bones and cartilage have stretched as my hand gripped my Father’sMother’sSister’s and our feet set in motion together. My hair hardly knows how to lay still, so many years has it been blowing.
My favorite memories of my mother are from the softball field. On the balls of my feet, crouched and ready. Her long fingers wrapped around the oldest bat you can imagine. The gold bat. Grounders zinging along the ground toward my soft, smooth childhood body. An oversized glove snapping them up.
Other times she is a far away speck and I am buried in deep and uneven grass playing flyers up with the rest of The Patriots. The low, flat line drive off the fat part of her bat and I’m the only one out there with enough drive to go after it. They sit and wait for the ones that fall in from above. I snap up the balls that are dead set on hitting grass. I chase the long balls. I’m the queen of the off-balls. The ones not hit into the group.
Balls hitting grass is a personal affront to my sensitivities.
I was born running. I came into the world chasing things. It’s natural for me.
My sister at 19 is long and lean. Just out of high school. Floundering a bit as people out of high school are wont to do. She’s in the local community college and she still drives the 1969 Yellow Super Beetle that belongs to my mother.
We drive together with the sunroof open. We park at the Cedar River Trail and begin to run. I am eleven years old. I don’t know a damn thing about distance running except that if you don’t go a tiny bit slower than in softball, you’re going to fall flat on your nose.
We play the chase game.
She’s out in front and I have to mimic her every move.
I remember her body in motion. Arms out to the side, knobby fingers splayed in an attempt at balance. Her feet turning over. The mechanics of her ankle and knee as she launches up onto a park bench and then to the retaining wall. Her shortened steps as she navigates the strip of 8 inch concrete that makes up the top of the wall. Her feet one in front of the other.
The river is reflecting the sunlight. The brick-lined path is geometric and I can’t keep up for all my laughing.
My moments of euphoria mostly come when I am doubled over, hands on both knees, gasping. Lack of oxygen sharpening colors around me. Sharpening some edges and blurring others. The world at a slight tilt. The angle wide.
Fully aware of the heart inside my chest. Organs no longer just abstract concepts but actual throbbing entities, pounding on the outside of me with both fists. Lungs that scream silently and made the greatest noise. Internal fire and roaring. A great chaos underneath my skin.
I was born in motion.
I was raised by people who couldn’t stand still for long.
Three years old and wrestling. I learned to punch and fall and get scraped. Dad made sure I didn’t get hurt seriously but he taught me how to focus my strength.
I have never been ashamed to be strong or physical. I feel entitled to my strength.
My sister lifted free weights in the garage. She was 14 and I remember her there with that barbell suspended above her tiny frame. Rep after rep. I was in charge of counting.
She dropped it on her face once but she didn’t panic. Even though she was bleeding. And she was a bleeder. Has a disease she got from our father. Like hemophilia, but different. When you crack her open she just gushes until someone in the medical field puts a stop to it.
We called mom at work and she came home to take us to the clinic.
I remember how calm my sister stayed. Her composure. Her awareness that, at 6 years old, I would pick up on hysteria. Her commitment to making sure I did not become afraid. I trusted her. When she told me that things were ok, I believed her. Without fail.
At fourteen she had a maternal awareness that she shouldn’t have had to bear. But she took it on and she sheltered me. She took care of us. She put cheese on my broccoli so that I would eat it. She played games with me and put me to bed when mom was covering the police beat and dad was away at sales conventions.
Even with her face split open and blood drying on the weight bench, I trusted that things would be ok because she said it.
I was used to the clinic and the hospital. Bleeders have nose bleeds that won’t end. Tonsils that won’t clot. Any little accident and they were headed to get treatment.
When I was three my father accidentally sunk a machete into his shin while he was pruning the orchard. Yes. My father felt it was alright to prune the orchard with a machete. Such is my lot and my people. Wild, we are.
He drove to the emergency room after dressing the wound as best he could. I have no idea how we got there alive. It had gone in an inch and a half deep. Hell, I don’t even know how he pulled it out. The doctors made me sit facing the corner to save me the gore. Little did they know that gore was par for the course in a house with two bleeders.
You think that we would have been extra cautious with my sister and father so vulnerable. But we just went on living. I learned not to let anything hold you back. I watched my sister play football and hockey. We poked at the massive bruises that would form mysteriously on her body. Black to purple to yellow.
Yellow was my favorite stage.
Ugly and beautiful at once.
Her indifference to injury and risk taught me to move through life without fear. To run at full tilt and not stop until the world shifted a little bit and I found myself doubled over with hands on knees, gasping.
I was born in motion. And though I’ve learned to be still it has only shown me one thing.
I want to die doubled over.
With my hands on my knees.
I’m 5-6 weeks from being able to begin a running program again. And my body is ready to move.
I’m ready to suffer.