Tomorrow a friend of mine is running the Double Dipsea. Next month she will run the San Francisco Marathon, which was my first (and currently only) marathon, back in 2006. It’s amazing to think how much time has passed. And the various life paths I’ve traveled since then.
What follows may heavy, but it will find light; I promise.
Shortly after that marathon, I nearly stopped running completely. I wrangled an ill relationship that nearly run me into the ground. Such relationships had—secretly—defined me for… oh so ever. I mastered the art of keeping secrets to my own unraveling. Simultaneously I completed my thesis, a rather emotional book of poems, which never received appropriate guidance as my guiding professor ended up acting inappropriately, forcing me to look for another advisor last-minute. Meanwhile, I tried (probably unsuccessfully) to keep my happy face at my techie day job. Somewhere along the line, I escaped said relationship and tried to surround myself with healthful, loving people. I’ve always been horrible at asking for help, but at some point, I found the strength to do so. Thank you, healthful, loving people in my life. You know who you are, and I love you.
On the up and up, I received my MFA in Poetry. This would be my third unattended graduation. People, even if it seems silly at the time, go to your own graduations! Celebrate yourselves! For me, I felt I could breathe again, even though I didn’t much feel like writing. Certainly, I laughed again, went to music shows in the City, reveled the company of wonderful people. Enjoyed long, talkative breakfasts with friends. Reunited with myself. I started running again. And, in a way, I kept running.
I woke up one morning in Colonia, Uruguay, sandwiched between a hazy past and some mysterious future, somehow able to let go of both yet not completely sure if I wanted to. I’d just started traveling through South America: mountains, tango, lost cities, huge waterfalls, rainforests, popping colors, people. My closest friends say they knew I wouldn’t return, although I swore I would—in two months.
It’s been more than three years. In that time I’ve found yoga; climbed mountains and volcanoes; conquered and been conquered by soroche; lived and volunteered among indigenous people; touched pink dolphins in the Amazon; walked on glaciers and slurped impossibly sweet clean water from their streams; cliff dove into deep pools of water; danced and danced; learned a new language; edited and designed a local travel newspaper; translated a self-help book, among other things; survived a 10-day vow of silence, meditating; trained for a canceled “end of the world” marathon; cried from joy and the purest love, met and married the most lovely, amazing person I’ve ever known; laughed myself voiceless; reconnected with “home”; discovered serendipity in the every day and, truly, all we need is love.
I believe I could have accomplished most of these things without entirely fleeing my home in California. ...But then I wouldn’t have met my husband. Something drove me to leave, to explore. Call it fate, intuition, something cosmic. I had some growing to do, some new perspectives to view. And someday, sooner or later, I’ll be back training for a Big Sur Marathon with a beautiful friend.