Of Pavement and Paper

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I woke up this morning fuming at my neighbors downstairs for some kind of stupid machine I presumed they were running with a motor that was revving and then fading loud enough to wake me up. Turns out, when I turned off the fan app on my phone, the noise went away. I knew I was hearing things besides the hum of the fan when I turned that damn thing on.

I’ve been awake for nearly two hours and the clock has just struck 4:57. Enough light is breaking through for me to make my way through the house to get my laptop without stepping on a misplaced toy.

I really should go for a run this morning. When my mind is going fast, the thought of going for a run makes me feel tired. I’d rather take a yoga class. But summer mornings don’t last long, so I’ll convince myself to hit the trail for just a mile or so, and then once I’m there, I’ll look around at the dew on the grass and the sun fighting its way through the trees and all the lovely little things that make summer mornings sacred, and then I will decide that I’ve got two or maybe three in me today.

My hips hurt. The left one more than the right, a dull ache in both today. They remind me I’m not as young as I once was, and that I have a lot on my mind. I hold things in my hips. Fear, anxiety, excitement. They also remind me to be kind to my body, and grateful for the way it allows me to exist in this world. Grateful for the way it holds me.

I hear my daughter tossing and turning. Don’t wake up now, little one. I’m not ready to find Band Aids for the boo boos and toast your bagel for breakfast quite yet. I have words that have been bouncing around in my head, ideas – as Elizabeth Gilbert says – that are looking for a human counterpart, and momma just needs a minute to let them all out.

I was in the line at the grocery store yesterday watching my little seven year old explain to the cashier that she’d found Midnight, the store’s mascot cow, which in turn earns her a sticker, and a sucker on lucky days. Finding Midnight is her only “job,” when we go to the store. Meanwhile, I’m there with the menu in mind (on a good week) while also considering the next week’s schedule, the budget, and if the veggies in the cart will be tolerated by the tiny human. She’ll never turn down a carrot, but she draws the line at brussel sprouts.

And yet, in the midst of the regular, keep all the things running for one more day routine, there is a writer in me and a runner in me that both keep fighting for a place in this world.

Truth be told, I’m not really sure I’d call myself a runner. In my head runners run, well, races. Most of the time, my 10-some-days-11-minute per mile pace feels more embarrassing than inspirational, and it’s just easier to keep it all to myself – or stay in bed – or both.

But something happens on the trail that keeps drawing me back. My thoughts clear a bit there. Perspective really is a marvelous thing, and the trail kicks my hiney most of the time. Usually just after the first mile where I feel like I can run like the wind and wonder why I don’t sign up for all the marathons, I hit the infamous wall, and remember exactly why a good 5k rhythm works nicely for me.

Me, a runner? Barely. Me, a writer. No flipping way.

Writers write, well, books. But yet the words keep coming and they bang on the walls of my brain like hostages desperate for fresh air and sunshine. So I’ve come to the conclusion that I can choose to not call myself a runner or not call myself a writer for as long as I want, but just like the trail, these little guys will have their way and I am better for it.

So today, or any day, I don’t have to decide if I’m a runner or a writer. I can still go ahead and put my feet to pavement and words to paper.

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