An Evening Run
It was the first time after a literal eternity that she had gone out for a run. It had been more than a year, to be honest. What a difference a year had made! More stretch marks, revival of the sleepless nights, back in the land of worry about yet another helpless little human, and added dependencies to the list of endless vulnerabilities after having children. She ran on the sidewalk on the very noisy and busy street that overlooked her recently purchased condo she called home now. She breathed in fresh air that gave her strength and endurance and a strange sense of freedom that she set out to secure for herself and her posterity. She saw herself as a progenitor now, attempting to build a life for the future generation and raising honorable humans. She passed the lakeside apartments that overlooked the moss covered fountain next to a wilting weeping willow tree, reminding her of how she had felt when she found out that she was going to become a mother for the third time. Six years back, she would’ve thought you were mocking her. Six years back, she was trying to recover from a brutal miscarriage and had given up on having a baby. Today, she wanted to go back to that doctor and ruin his psyche and bruise his ego. Who tells a 20 something year old woman that she’d never be a mother ?!
She continued to run with a million thoughts occupying her head, fittest surviving at the end. She ran alongside the woods that seemed shallow and altered by humans, bringing deep rooted emotions she had fought hard to let go out in the open. The smell of lavender and chamomile in the air opened her mind elevating her sense of exemption, the sense that set her apart from all her friends. She kept running even though she was already out of breath and struggling to see the reason behind the run in the first place. But these thirty minutes were hers, all hers, away from chaos, struggle, free of arguments and debates, making her feel like she was ten years old again in her parents home watching ‘Wonder years’ and eating chocolate without a care in the world. She trotted in between her sprints, awkwardly and yet displayed elegance in her movement. She almost bumped into the man with the Starbucks coffee cup, wondering what his life might be like. Maybe he also actively seeked the free and unmerited favor of God?
But she didn’t have it all that bad, did she? Not everyone has a life she has, 3 kids and white picket fences. But her perception of her present had negative tones, deep and harsh sounding from illness of emotion. So she essayed wobbly steps imagining herself as a little girl blowing the candle of the guitar shaped cake wearing a guitar shaped hair clip and a tailor made dress that she so dearly prized. She could see herself in her childhood home running around, making wishes and dreaming dreams with happy endings. She could smell the air she breathed and remember the boy she loved.
Birthdays never came easy for her. They were like a plague and she could never escape from them. She wasn’t afraid of them. She just wished to understand them, not let them control her. It had been a week since her birthday. Not so young anymore, she turned 35, officially in her mid 30s. Soon she would be considered middle aged, and just like that half her life would’ve passed her. Life had its ups and downs, surprises, and it’s joyful noises. She knew that and yet she couldn’t quite capture any moment long enough to savor it. She relished them and basked in their glory and yet was not able to hold them close enough to let them touch her heart.
She weaved the patterns of her existence, triumphantly hiding behind masks and facades, covering herself to disguise and conceal her face, the scars and marks healing her injured soul. It probably was an indication of damage, damage she escaped from. But she felt safe here as she stumbled assertively smiling to the geese blocking the traffic on the road, hidden from the world outside, hidden from possible treacherous mockery. Her secrets were in a strongbox with other valuables in safekeeping. Her mind was at ease on the street. It was like when she was in the outpatient room waiting patiently for her newborn to be delivered to her cradle. She had woken up this morning wanting to break free, free from the chains of loose interpretation of her own life. That was the luxury of reaching her age! You see, she did not care what anybody thought of her, not now, not anymore. And, darling, she did not fear what she didn’t really know. Who does that, anyway?!
She floated in space sharing the cosmos with heart shaped balloons, loud telephone conversations with friends, enthusiastic shrieks and squeals of her girls, and all the trauma that she now was able to detach from. It was like she had been drugged to get to a tranquil state of comfort. She peeked at the windows in the houses she ran past, the lives that dyed her evening with color, attempting to catch the look on her own face, hoping for a hidden smile or a warm sensation. Her eyes were crimson red, miraculously not because of lack of sleep but because of a different kind of exhaustion. The kind that is cruel to the mind and the body, lacking compassion and mercy and able to inflict pain with elegance. She thought back a decade ago when life was decorated with bows and ribbons, yoga mat and moving meditation, food recipes and tea parties. Her washed out, worn out body reeked of sympathy, like repeated threadbare jokes. And yet she continued to run, connecting with the lyrics of the song that played in the background.
“Nights becomes days, days becomes years and within I walk, fast and in circles winds blows at me, blows on the back of my neck everything looks so far away, bigger then my own dimensions. It’s not I who go forward, only time getting further away its another train passing by, another rope that gets tighter sunrises becomes sundowns, seasons passes and I’m the same , inside time that runs out”
She exasperated and sighed heavily, voting for that social reform in her own life, the one she read about in newspapers in the spare time that she didn’t have. She didn’t quite know what to ask for or what to want, anymore. In the eyes of the society, she had it all and yet something was missing, that zing in life that glued all the pieces in the puzzle box, that oomph that made the world go round. But where would she get them, the zing and the oomph. All the drugs she took with the innocent hope of finding what she was looking for, only aggravated her pain and struggle. It was like some sort of disorder, a somatic sensation of acute discomfort. It started out as a tickle and ended as a nuisance, an infliction, certainly not a friend.
She didn’t know how to not think about all the people she had left behind. Their memories followed her like a shadow, overpowering her essence and every inch of her being. Freud said and she eloquently quoted, “we are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love.” Their words haunted her as she let them vanish into the dark expanse. She volunteered her heart to their absence to reminisce some moments where they made her feel warm and safe, happy and sad. That lingering trace of evidence that claimed a piece of her heart, even today. She owed them, her life’s small victories. They were the shade with clear boundaries, a tincture of condemnation, dominating and pervasive, clinging on to her like an inseparable companion. In the midst of the chaotic dynamic system that was sensitive to its own genetic disposition, her existence merged with their existence, as she studied the evolution of the universe. The universe had been kind to her.
She was almost home now. She had managed to run two successful miles. She was back in her own reality, ready to go on with her evening with her three children and husband. She was ready to be herself again! What other choice did she have, anyway!