Like everyone, I’ve had my share of life experiences that make me realize, among other things, that I am not invincible. I can’t fake everything all the time, I can’t always be the person I visualize in my head, I can’t deny that sometimes I would rather sleep in, shut out, and shut down than handle one more thing. After all, it’s true that ducks, looking all cool and calm, paddle like hell under the surface of the water, but when they see a predator come after them, they freak out and fly away. They put the kibosh on the whole “cool, calm, and collected” thing and go a little nuts to get out of harm’s way so they can paddle another day. That’s kind of where I’m at with moving and marathon training right now.
By now, I’ve moved about a hundred times and I’ve always noticed that there’s a weird pyramid progression that goes on with moving.
You start out kind of slow…you pack up the things you absolutely know you won’t need between now and your move, like books. The packing tape goes over the boxes without a single wrinkle, your nick-nacks are wrapped with loving nostalgia, you expertly organize your belongings in boxes that are majestically labeled by room and content: “Kitchen- Wine Glasses [Fragile].” Once the boxes start piling up, thus quantifying how much crap you actually own, packing becomes a little more frantic. Maybe you left out a few books from some earlier boxes, so those get shoved in with DVDs. No one has to know until you chicken-scratch “Books/DVDs” on the box. Your closet gets emptier as you start packing your clothes, but then you realize you have more hangers than New York City’s Fashion District and you literally don’t know how to pack those damn things or even want to deal with them right now, so instead of poetic labels on industrial-strength cardboard, you start lackadaisically classifying things in your head as “I’ll figure out what to do with that later” or “I’m getting rid of this.” The boxes continue to stack up, the sounds of humidity-dampened packing tape slowly undoing and freaking you out as you lay collapsed on the couch for JUST a moment of quiet, your mountain of crap starts looking more like Mount Everest than Mount Mitchell and so, too, are the logistics of actually getting your mountain of crap from Point A to Point B. One of the “final” boxes you tape together gets labeled in its own obviousness: the “I got sick of packing” box that includes among many things a colander (because you’re also sick of pasta every night), a box of tampons (because you’re so stressed out you will likely be late anyways), and a miniature lamp base (why do we even need 6″ lamps on top of our microwaves!?) And scattered around your once neat abode is random crap that you’ll probably end up tossing in the back of the moving van, hoping it doesn’t break something through the boxes as it lands. Add to all of that the farewell dinners, last-minute bucket list trips, and errands to the Goodwill and recycling bins from all the drinking you’ve been doing lately…….weird….. as well as lease fights with two landlords and you’ve got yourself one hell of a good time.
Oh, and my car just broke down. Nice touch, universe.
In the midst of all of this madness, I have to remind myself of two things: a) all of this stress is manufactured by things that have been manufactured and are thus replaceable, and b) I will have a job and an apartment to go to in the city that I love. It also helps to remember that I have been shown an extraordinary amount of support from the people I love throughout this entire process. Doing this on my own has been hard, but doing this without everyone’s help would literally be impossible. The stress of ensuring that I see the people I love before I go is the kind of stress that can be alleviated by making it my first priority over running.
Last week, my mother spent two days with me in Lincoln. We hung out in PJs that we bought just for that weekend, and watched “Rocky” while she made me her fried Cheerios snack and I made her my new favorite snack of vanilla bean ice cream with sliced bananas. I was able to run 6 miles that morning, and then we ate Thai food and old-fashioned ice cream for lunch. We painted ceramics, went shopping for licorice and summer sales, and had a “Cake Boss” marathon on Netflix. I was with my family to help them decide on adopting a playful gray tabby kitten named Tucker from the Nebraska Humane Society.
After spending a few days packing, I had my brother Caleb and sister Melissa down at my apartment for pool time and jalapeno-pepperoni pizza to celebrate Melissa’s 19th birthday. I ran every day in between, including a 12-miler before heading up to Omaha to watch the Blue Angels’s air show and for a family dinner at Old Chicago for Melissa’s birthday.
On Sunday, Caleb and I drove 8 hours from Lincoln, Nebraska to Highlands Ranch, Colorado. It was a really great chance to bond with my brother, and we celebrated my dad’s 55th birthday at Coors Field watching the Rockies host my team, the Washington Nationals. We even had guest services sing happy birthday to him and I saw Kid Rock get kicked out for sneaking in booze. I ran 11 exhilarating miles in the mountains near my parent’s house, including 5 miles with my dad along a beautiful canal. Caleb and I drove back on Wednesday and, even though 8 hours behind the wheel made me incredibly tight and I couldn’t run my scheduled 5 miles, I made use of my time by changing my U-Haul reservation from a 10-foot truck to a portable storage pod, taking my recycling to the recycling center, packing the items I had left out in case I needed them before I moved, and making plans with friends and family. Even though I haven’t been able to run as much as I wanted to this week, all I know I will remember is that I made the most of the time I had with the people I loved who have been there for me through a rocky year of challenges and change. To me, that feels like more of an accomplishment than running the 45 miles I have scheduled this week.
I would be lying if I said it was easy to let training take a backseat this week. I’m freaking out a little bit. Yes, I do need to take care of my move right now. Yes, I do need to spend time with the people I love before I leave. Yes, I do need to run when I can and what I can. Letting training take a lower priority this week feels like my Mitchell-turned Everest. But I have been blessed beyond measure with this new opportunity, and humility is the price to pay for those blessings. I can’t be everything this week when I have to be a daughter, a sister, and a friend right now. And besides, I’m so damn tired I literally can’t get off the couch right now. In all honesty, this post was prompted from the guilt of having missed only two days of training to moving so far. I still have a couple of 7-milers and a 14-mile long run to do and it’s only Thursday!
By this time next week, I will be DC-bound, driving through the mountains of West Virginia. Instead of the Beltway in my rear view mirror, I’ll be wearing my glasses and feeling eager to get my first glimpse of my town. Before then, I’ll have six days with my Nebraska friends and family. There’s nothing that could make me happier right now than all of that together.