6.2 Miles

I will turn 35 in a couple of months. This feels significant and kind of unnerving. When I strip away the layer of judgment that lurks at every turn, I feel like coming up on 35 is some kind of passageway. But then again, I have felt myself to be standing at the portal my whole life. My 11:11, my birth time, the gates between this world and the Universe, defines me. And yet, I am still not sure where I stand, what it means. I am always searching for the meaning, only to realize, with a combination of disappointment and relief, that it is simply this. Now, here, sad, present, story, mama, moment.

This was the final paragraph of my “check-in” email to my writing friends this morning. Shortly after I hit “send,” I went out for a run.

I ran 6.2 miles.
I didn’t mean to.
Just kept running.
Three times my usual distance.
Around mile 5 my right knee hurt.
I saw that I was running towards a sign that said SPEED LIMIT 35.
I ran right past it.
Nothing was different on the other side.
Just more running.
One foot after the other.

Two lines came to me while I ran:

Women who aren’t afraid to say “fuck.”
and
I learned the languages of the people who killed my People.

I knew I’d remember these but decided not to try to make them mean anything.
I felt sad.
Anger lurked around the sadness, like a thick skin.
Such big anger, it threatened to overtake me.
I decided if I was still sad at home, I’d sit and cry.
I decided if I was still raging at home, I’d pound it out on the keyboard.
I ran under underpasses and over overpasses.
I ran uphill and downhill and uphill again.
I looked ahead and not back.
I thought about violence and why certain images haunt me, inexplicably.
My breathing was steady.

Halfway through the run, I saw that I was heading home.
I realized that the older I get, the closer I come to home.
The sadness gave way to anger and then the anger gave way to sadness again.
Then the anger and the sadness both dissipated.
And it was just me and my steady breathing and my aching knee
and the pavement
and the yellow leaves
and the falling
and the cows eating lunch
and the traffic
and the keeping going
and the sweating
and the cooling
and the steady, steady, steady me.

5 thoughts on “6.2 Miles

  1. GailNHB says:

    Beautiful story.
    Beautifully written.
    Breathing, running, thinking, feeling everything every step of the way.
    And steady, steady, steady you.
    Beautiful.

    Thank you for this.

    Like

  2. meredithwinn says:

    oh jena. beautiful words.
    can i confess that i am a woman who says fuck? it’s true. maybe i should take up running to get it out of my system. i need to get my life back to steady steady. thank you for sharing this.

    Like

  3. Beth P. says:

    loved this.
    need to not just say fuck but do so more regularly.
    Way over the speed limit, I am, indeed, dyslexic of your sign, soon to turn the next page.

    keep running, lovely. you’ll catch up with yourself really soon. in the revolved triangle.

    Like

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