Friday, January 29, 2010

Once a runner

"The awful truth would begin to dawn on him: there was no Secret! His days would have to be spent in exactly this manner, give or take a mile or two, for longer than he cared to think about, if he really wanted to see the olive wreath up close. It would simply be the most difficult, heartrending process he would endure in the course of his life."

John L Parker

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

high five

Epiphany, part II

Today I made the decision that's been nagging at me for about a month. So its done.

Its the end of January so I suppose it goes without saying that I am restless. This is new for me, this staying here, this not moving out. The rhythms of college are so locked in my bones that the sun shining after a long stretch of cold (and in this case, rain) gives me yen to pack up and change locations. That sweet, forgiving wind sweeps me right to the center of town, prompting my nostalgia, as if I am going somewhere else. But I'm still here, and the affect is a bit like staying at a friends' house too long. We both know its time to go, but neither of us act and thus, we remember the entire event as that awkward aftermath: the hems and haws, the chewing on exhausted topics...

Weeks later, I am still here. Weeks later, I'm still hitting the alarm and walking down Roosevelt to the grocery store. I heat water for tea, I watch television, run and cook my date-and-hemp spelt wrap sandwiches.

Then two mondays ago, a break in the routine. After work, all I want to do is nap, but the sun has burst through the clouds and in order to spend my get-out-and-go energy I grab a pair of shorts(!) and my Asics and hit the road. I don't even have to ask myself where to go. My insides run me straight to the beach, a little over a 5 mile run. There I run up and down the shore, face-to-face with the breath-taking mountain view, amongst other early beach gatherings, gleeful and sweater-clad. After a few minutes I feel the pull again and move on through Ballard, past the seafood restaurants and the locks, then make a right on Shilshole, past the new Trader Joe's, under the Ballard bridge and then grab the Burke-Gilman right after the Fred Myer. From there Fremont is so close I can taste it. As soon as I reach the bridge, I climb the stairs and run the remaining eight minutes to campus, where I meet a breathless Patrick, hurrying into class with a friend. "Hey!" he yells and kisses my cheek on the way in the door. I like that moment in time, and I wanted to save it: I felt like I had somewhere behind me and somewhere ahead and there we were together, synchronized: a student and traveler. I want to spend every day in this way.

However, this little run-in that Monday prompted me to attend class with Pat Thursday. It didn't hurt that the professor was overwhelmingly likable, or that the subject matter was familiar to me, or that Pat and I stayed in class during the break, chattering like parakeets and I remembered again how we met and why we're friends. It didn't hurt that my review at work was less than stellar and I suspect its simply because we're low on funds. And in the end it led me to schedule a meeting with Dr. Strong, the dean of the religion department and the professor behind the grad program to which Patrick currently belongs.

We met today, and I have to say, I wasn't too sure of what to expect. He asked me about the wedding, and though I knew that they had met before I was surprised to learn that he actually attended Princeton with Dr. Hartley, the dean of my own religion department back in Greenville, the one who- if all goes well- will be officiating our wedding. We reminisced, and I mentally walked the old campus and a part of my heart ached for that sort of environment. He showed me a copy of the courses I would take if I studied theology there, a different track than Pat's program in the end but with similar beginnings. I saw myself in the library there and a shiver ran down my spine: oh the red-penned feedback! And then I looked at the carpet under my feet. I felt the flatness of my wallet in my back pocket, thought of what I wanted for my future, for my marriage, for my day-to-day. And then he prayed for me. (this may have been the deal-breaker) And I shook his hand, and I left.

I clutched the water bottle his assistant had offered and the folded pamphlet, and when I skipped down the steps, something came over me and before I knew it I had swooped down behind the building and dropped it into a bush. When I got to Pat's house, I stuck the water bottle between two branches of a tree; I was afraid he would recognize it, and see the prayer like a cloud around my features and I was ashamed.

I said I'd take him to coffee and he asked me, "Where? The one on campus, or the Tully's?" And I thought about it for a while. The coffee on campus: amongst clicking lap tops and thick text books and chattering classmates. "Tully's," I said.

At the coffee shop I told him why I was on campus. "Oh," he said, "So I suppose you want me to get the folder?" I smiled sheepishly, and couldn't help remembering: In our second year at Greenville we took a class together Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. One Tuesday I got to class early, said hello to Pat and dumped my stuff on the chair beside his, then ran outside to meet the guy with whom I was currently enduring a dissolving relationship. We spoke for several minutes, and then yelled and fought and in the end, I never made it back to class. When the hour was up, too embarrassed to return to class to retrieve my things, I headed straight to track practice to stretch with the team. A few minutes before we hit the pavement, Patrick pulled open the doors of the Rec Center, holding my bag and coat.

"Sure," I said, sighing a grin. "That would be nice."

And so its done, and I won't be going to school after all. In some ways I am quite sad, but in other ways I know its right. Greenville was such a special time for me, but it was never forced, and I was always present. And now I strive to continue that trend by being present in my current situation, which is this: running from neighborhood to neighborhood, this colossal question mark slung over my shoulders- for the moment, my only cross to bear.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reasons to be (vegan)

Two weeks of eating vegan, and I'm feeling a little loopy. I keep passing Auntie Anne's pretzel shop and Pagliacci's Pizza, and a buzzing starts in my head: like this whole foods initiative is ludicrous, our society just doesn't eat like this, I will be shut out of every social occasion and what do vegans ever even eat anyway?!

celery, hemp flour, flax, quinoa, mango, and a million bananas...

But then I pick up the book that started this out in the first place, Thrive: The vegan Nutrition Guide by Brendan Brazier, and I remind myself that eating whole foods isn't just good for me; its good for everybody.

Brazier, by the way, is a professional Ironman Triathlete, a feat I could only begin to imagine after having run a marathon myself, as an Ironman includes but is not limited to the typical 26.2 mile foot-race. Add several hours of biking and swimming and you've got your guy. And this is the stuff that he eats: This insanely expensive hemp oil, agave, sea vegetables like dulse and nori, "pies" made of sunflower seeds and dates, "pizzas" made of sweet potatoes and beets, and muffins stuffed with millet. To top it off, his thesis generally states that the refined foods we consume as an alternative to his wacky diet stress our bodies to a point of sickness: we can't sleep, we crave stimulants instead of nutrients, we are ill or gain weight or feel depressed and disoriented. As someone who does not enjoy feeling disoriented and would like to run a marathon with greater ease, why the hell not throw a little ground flax in my cereal? I've even convinced Patrick (who has loved millet since his four-month stay in Russia) that sprouting quinoa on a napkin can be fun.

Add this to the environmental perks: approx. 30% less energy used to maintain a plant-based diet, and you really can't go wrong. Refinement is fine when it comes to dinner parties. But for now, for me, I'm giving it a rest.

And I really did have the most delicious pizza last night: sweet potato, sesame seeds, chickpea flour, coconut oil, garlic, basil, and sea salt in a food processor for the crust. Tomato, onion, bell pepper, beet, green onion and oregano for the topping and an incredible marinara sauce. Please ask for the recipes, or better yet, pick up a copy of the book...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Epiphany, part I

After some wonderful time with my family I'm back to real life, and it seems a wedding is looming before us all. Whose, I'm not sure. Nothing is clear, not yet.

While I know I want the marriage (which is to say, I want it much of the time), the hooplah can just feel so unnecessary sometimes. Like, I do love to throw a good party, but does it really have to be about us? And I suppose the answer is yes, the "us" that encircles my reality anyway, the "us" that is my parents, and dear grandparents and sweet friends of all sizes. But there is something else significant happening here, and I know that also.

Like for one, my sister is having a baby. An event so huge and transformative I feel silly thinking about invitations and outfits at all. But I know also we all love silly and so I've somehow tricked Christy into going wedding dress shopping with me on Wednesday. Once I find some cash.

The point is, life ka-thumps onward- even though you've always been much wiser than this, a small, idiotic part of you still thinks getting married will be this very interesting turning point in your life, but its not. Pat still has school and we still struggle to find time and space in which to connect. I still spend long afternoons looking for a hobby; Christy made it into Oxford, and is making plans to sell our beloved piano and leaving her Gilmore Girls to me (hurrah!). A co-worker of mine has passed away and tomorrow at noon I meet my friends to head to his funeral. Dear friends of mine are engaged. I'm training for the marathon, and have been flirting with going vegan.

Oh, my God, I've never needed a slice of Old Amsterdam more. Thank the powers that beer is made of plants; I'm starving for some comfort.

The hour is too late; the lights keep flickering. I can hear rain and merrymakers on my roof. They're singing in unison, and somewhere a radio blares bass that is so far from here I can only feel it in the pillow that rests between my back and the wall. Tonight everything in my life feels large and close like a dream. I wonder if the doors rattle every night in the witching hour or only if I'm awake to hear it.

I think about our baby, a fuzzy little peach, about my co-worker who has finally finished the race, the contents of my room: the orange scarf, the wicker chair, that Boston cap, a painting of a church, a spoon, a light, a map, a bowl. My friends that line the wall above my bed: Ron, Ginny, Hermione, Luna.