Running and dwelling: I’ve been meditating on the two lately; a strange pair they are. When I run — the physical embodiment of moving forward in pursuit of that faraway goal of the Des Moines Half Marathon in October — I find myself dwelling, immobilized by unmoored thoughts rooted in what was.
I remember the European boy who was mean to me on a 2014 study abroad trip. How I swooned over the two-and-then-some languages he spoke; how he admired my English vocabulary and the obscure words that wind their way into everyday chatter.
I think of the semester of college I spent binge drinking cheap, terrible booze, completely paralyzed by the incident and unable to cope in positive manner.
I relive the time a textbook taught my Arabic class to use the same word for “friend” and “boyfriend,” and I spent an entire week introducing every guy in class as my boyfriend. The dwelling isn’t entirely founded in negative experiences or memories.
This blog emerged on a run, sentences punctuated by moments of breathlessness, some fueled by the exertion, some by the painful memories themselves, I think.
There’s a certain preoccupation with “getting over” things, one that doesn’t give us permission to work through anything on our own timeline.
For me, there is often an extended period of intense, well, ranting. I’m talking swear-word laden, repetitive, teenage-Taylor-worthy rubbish. But every once in a while I find a valuable nugget of wisdom or useful sentence amid that rubbish, something that later leads to a blog post, an essay or simply a day-to-day epiphany.
When I run, I dwell; when I find myself dwelling on something, I run. Maybe it’s dangerous to simulate a sense of progress by physically moving forward while I return to some ‘traumatic’ experience that then felt like the collapse of my proverbial universe. But maybe running is the safe space in which I’m free to ruminate, replay and relive the painful. And when I regain my breath, I often find that I’ve gained perspective.
I’m over “getting over it.” I’m the one running through it.