I didn’t discover the true secret to happiness until I was thirty-years-old so I have a whole list of places where I wish I had run. Of moments in my life when I wish I had had the emotional maturity to make running a part of my everyday.
If only I had known how calm and confident running can make you.
1) Towson High School
Instead of staying up late talking on the phone or sneaking cigs before school started I could’ve, should’ve been running! God, I would have been beautiful! So young, so skinny! So tan! Instead I was an art-house goon: pale, red-eyed and brooding all the damn day.
2) In college in the beautiful Hudson Valley. Instead of drinking 40’s and arguing over Marxist theory, I could’ve been running the trails. My mind would have been sharper for studying, my poems however might have suffered a bit.
3) Those first lonely months in Madrid, when I discovered slowly and then ever so quickly what it means to be a woman in this world. Instead of feeling my lip quiver as a man named Jesus taught me how to dance, I could have been exploring the Retiro park. I could have gotten strong instead of skinny. But then again, I may never have read so much Bashevis Singer and Cormac McCarthy all alone in the subway if I’d been running…
4) Granada. Ah, the hills, I walked them back in September 2004, but how I’d like to have run them. In that crisp morning air you get from the Sierra Nevada just before the sun comes up. And I would have enjoyed all the food I ate so much more.
5) Philadelphia. That hot summer of 1999 when I was broke and broken hearted. Sure I got strong from selling cokes at Veterans Stadium and riding my bike all over town, but god if I had started running that summer I would have been on top of the world.
As you can see, I’m back to believing that running keeps me steady. This past fall I was afraid to admit that because my hip hurt and I thought that happiness might just slip away but after this weekend’s post-injury PR in a 10-k I’m feeling like I’ve kept a hold of running, clenched it just tight enough.