I ran to Washington Park.
I had never been there before.
I ran through downtown Portland streets. West,west and west.
I was running from something. And to something. I couldn’t pin down either but I was running nonetheless.
Downtown slipped behind me and I turned into the park. Dark windy street heading uphill. Switchbacks. Suffering.
At the top the city spread out in front of me and shone. Beautiful. Dusk. Blue-ish. Just beginning to twinkle.
I rounded a corner and found a swing set. The big sturdy kind with soft rubber seats. They were still barely swaying and I caught a glimpse of the couple that had just abandoned them.
It seemed like an invitation. So I sat down.
Above me, black jagged branches like inkstamps against the darkening sky. You notice that kind of thing when you are sitting on a swing, pumping your legs, looking up. My heart rate stabilized my ipod randomized the next song. “Flying High” by Jem. A soft acoustic guitar line, a soft voice. Bittersweet lyrics.
I realized that I’d never really listened to this song before so I leaned back and pumped harder.
Everything right now is loaded with meaning. That is a phrase that I tend to overuse, but I do it for a reason. Things become irrationally weighted… I assign significance where perhaps there is none. Whether I create it or it really exists is really here nor there. What matter is that I find something there and hold onto it. File it away. Slip it into a pocket.
That moment was loneliness and longing and, strangely, contentment.
This is my life right now: solo runs to strange places, new discoveries, intense emotions. Things welling and rising. Clarity and confusion. Introspection.
My return back to downtown was manic. Frantic. Pushing lights, blazing past pedestrians, winking at cyclists. I felt good in a cautious way. I am starting to feel cautious about everything. I’m starting to play too many songs on repeat.
This is who I am.
Times of crisis tell us a lot. I am both disappointed and proud of myself. I allow myself a huge amount of feeling in almost everything. I get too close to people too fast. I gamble too much of myself, give too much away, feel too deeply.
I’ll accept these faults for what they are.
My days now are filled with very specific and very limited things.
Work and learning. So much too learn; a persistent feeling of having to catch up. I’ve always been a strong come from behind runner but only when I require myself to be successful at stifling the panic that comes with wondering if you are ever going to close the gap. My own self-doubt eats at me.
Methodical consumption. I ring up the exact same grocery order every time I make the trek to the store. Almost exactly – three times in a row. The checker actually glanced at me today with a knowing grin.
Red wine; Merlot or Pinot Noir. Low fat ricotta cheese for the purpose of spreading on Lite 9 grain bread (toasted). 99% fat free ground turkey, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. French roast coffee. Half and half. Black Butte Porter. Spring mix salad, carrot sticks. Fresh, hot salsa. French onion soup mix, egg whites.
That’s it. Every time.
Five meals a day. Low-fat protein, complex carbs, greens. I add fruit by means of the organic delivery that we get at work. Wine or beer at night with a single cigarette on the veranda where I smoke slowly and hope my neighbors will notice me and introduce themselves (this has yet to work).
I’ve always been regimented in this way but I’ve never been so narrow-focused. I’ve never purchased the exact same two bags of groceries for three weeks in a row.
It’s a control issue but I allow myself to do it because it’s balanced and healthy, if lacking in diversity. It won’t work forever but it will work for a few more months. Sam vows to join me and fatten me back up. My breasts are gone for the most part, though the rest of me is still muscular and healthy. My legs get longer every day from the running.
I snowboard on the weekends when I can work out a ride. I run the road races downtown. I love the hot uncomfortable feeling of the middle of a 10k and the cold, satisfied, amped aftershock. My co-workers run too so we gather at the finish and then leave together to find porters or stouts, which are sacred on race days and considered sufficient for post-race breakfast.
I ran a bath tonight and didn’t take it. I just sat next to it reading “Blankets” by Craig Thompson. I needed to finish it and I did. Because things are big and irrational right now I fell in love with Craig Thomspon.
Don’t worry. It will pass by morning.
Sam comes next weekend to give me the car. He is over-hauling my Pinarello in the meantime, so I can do a duathlon on May 21st. 5k run, 25k bike, 5k run. I’m inheriting his old Ksyriums (the ones you may recall I surprised him with for our 5th anniversary) which will cut my wheel weight in half. New cycling computer, bar tape, pedals, clip on aero-bars, and tires. The old girl will be a new ride when he is done, I have faith.
I have bought more technical gear since moving here than I have every purchased in my life. Running tights, technical jackets, gloves, shoes. I bought a new pair of shoes last week – Brooks – which didn’t work out. My foot became immediately sore so I’m returning them tomorrow. I went online in a panic and searched online or 30 minutes until I found a place that still carried my size in my current shoe, which are a season old. I bought two pairs.
Stockpiling, you see.
The continued forward motion of my body is so crucial at this point that I will pull out almost any stop to support the initiative.
Tomorrow is Thursday.
My apartment smells like ground turkey, cooked in a George Forman grill.
This is my life.