This weekend I found the type of closure which can only be acheived by one or all of the following: almost pooping yourself on a 20-mile run, getting hit on by a guy working under the hood of his truck - in front of the house in which you grew up! - making friends with your ex-of-all-exes, and finally understanding your two best friends after 5 years. It was, as they say, a doozy. (Didn't get much homework done though . . . oops.)
Rewind . . .
Friday night was the perfect night: a little flirting, some dinner and an early bed time. I overslept on Saturday for my 20-miler - didn't get up till 7 and out till 8, when my plan was up at 6 and out by 7. Then it turned out I only went 19 miles and change. I still feel really good about the results, though - and not sore at all. It was an awesome run. I proved to myself that, while Philly may hurt and I am going to have to break the iPod rule, it isn't going to kill me and I am capable of finishing. It's strange. I knew somehow at about mile 4 that I was going to make it through Philly. I still had 14-16 miles left, but I knew.
Around mile 5, I suddenly thought about how my parents' old house was close by and, feeling a pang of sadness that they're neither in Orlando nor coming to Philly for my first marathon, I decided I would run through their old neighborhood and add some mileage. I don't know why I thought that I'd feel their presence by running past their house, which hasn't been theirs in a good two years, but for some reason I did. Usually I avoid going past their house - I haven't been there in over a year. (Half the people I know don't live in the neighborhood; my parents are not there; might make me get too sentimental; etc.) But, today, embarking on the longest run of my life (which felt more like a string of music videos set to running than a string of miles set to music), I needed to.
The moment I crossed the street, a ball of emotion settled into the back of my throat, threatening to burst forth from my mouth and eyes. In fact, it might have, if it hadn't been for 'truck guy' and the scraggly dog that chased me. The whole place was just like I'd remembered it . . . but nothing like I'd remembered it. The homes of some of the neighborhood bullies, my baby-sitting clients and my old friends were re-painted. One family still lived there, and their parents, not as old as I'd imagined they'd look, were holding a garage sale. Mom and Dad's once-beautiful, landscaped yard was overgrown - not uncared-for, just not as manicured and lush as it was during our nearly 20-year ownership. The wisteria was in full bloom, despite this summer's unseasonably hot weather, and the china berry trees were almost full-sized, a far cry from the flexible, fragile-looking saplings we had originally planted. I passed the house where my first boyfriend lived on the way out, and the garage door was up. It was the only thing that remained unchanged - even the cars in the garage.
As I left the neighborhood, a surreal and palpably bittersweet sense of farwell fell over me. Crossing an invisble forcefield held in place by brick walls with gold "Sandpiper Ridge" signs, supported by 20 years of memories, I was compelled to look back several times on the way out and bid my childhood a final, silent goodbye. With that, I set my teeth and completed 19 miles and change.
Saturday night Karime and I got a little goofy, dressed as Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears (I think you get the theme here), and had a really fun time. We really connected, and I think our group of friends is more solid than ever. Sunday morning I was FINALLY able to firmly but nicely teach my soon-to-be-ex-husband (December should be the month) that friends do not cuddle in bed or shower together. I caught up on some work, did some studying, had lunch with a friend - during which he said something so profound that I finally understood him for the first time in years - and then did one of the most amazing 2-hour yoga classes in the world. After the weekend and a few odd dreams, I decided to e-mail Carlos, the guy I call my ex-of-all-exes and my first, long-term relationship (which was a total trainwreck). I decided it was time to stop talking shit about him and time to stop ignoring his ignoring me ignoring him. It was time to put the past behind me and be an adult.
I think a few cancer scares, some interesting training experiences on the way to Ironville, and getting close to 30 have really mellowed me out. I'm feeling this sudden need to tie up my past, refine my overall people skills, be friends with my past (including my exes), and be more direct in fulfilling my needs and expressing my ideas. It's the most amazing feeling I've ever had.
It's been a long time since I felt this way, that the world is my world, a limitless expanse of possibility and challenge. I'm looking forward to 30. And 40. And 50. But there's something else there that I've never felt, and that is a sense of self-assurance. First of all, I've been down a lot of these paths before, and my track record is success, so I will never doubt my ability to reproduce those results. Second, if the path is unfamiliar, then anything - and I mean anything - I encounter along the way is fodder for creativity, growth, laughter and strength. I am writing these words, at this moment, to immortalize this feeling, to remind myself that, should I ever find myself in a place where I'm tempted to do, say or think anything that can lock me down, I can come back and recall this exact place in time.
But somehow I don't think I'll need to.