Travelling solo

I’m heading away soon-ish. On my own. As in kid-free spouse-free wandering. It’s both fabulous holy crapola brilliance and I wish they were coming too (and what-will-I-do-with-my-arms-if-I’m-not-kid-wrangling?). I’m agitated by this excited sorrow joy. I keep thinking “if spontaneous combustion were a thing, I’d be at serious risk about now”.

I’ll be saying goodbye to 3 little faces with questioning eyes and the bear hug of him. But it needs to be done. There’s a bag stuffed full of reasons why. Too many to unpack right now. I just have to go.

So, New York, I’m coming back. It’s been too long. I need that hit. The straight to the veins life force of you.

The first time we met – I was smitten. Instantly. Utterly. A man stopped to ask why I was taking photos of the rubbish on your sidewalk “do you think it’s disgusting to see the trash out like this?” I laughed, giddishly. “Are you kidding?! Look at the snow filling its folds. Look at the soft white freshness on the black bags. So much beauty and contrast!” He grinned: “Hey yeah, I see what you’re saying”, and off he rolled. I was brimming. I didn’t usually talk like that (well not out loud). I didn’t even usually take pictures.

I was on my honeymoon then. In love with you and of course with him. New York overwhelmed me happily each day and he held me snug each night. The balance felt right. The world was at our feet – our future sparkling and sure. We were young and fresh and possible.

Ten years ago and yet much more than a decade has passed.

I didn’t know about those 3 little faces yet. How they’d tear me from myself. How I’d simply have to change or else. And how I’d fight the shedding…until one day I didn’t. I’ve always loved the word acquiesce…

I couldn’t know yet what those marriage vows meant. Such aspirational promising. A little embarrassing now. To love…to honour…and, astoundingly, to “romance”…The behind-closed-doors bearing with. The endurance. We stretched and stretched and sometimes broke. Didn’t we, my love…

And what of that body of mine striding down those snowy streets? Buoyant, light, Spring in her step despite the cold. I don’t remember anything about it other than the ease that health holds. It did what I expected it to do. It was not a thing to think of then.

I wonder how this varicosed ache, this wrenched apart and wretched body will fare. How will I walk this time through the steaming Summer swell. Will I stop to rest, to gain my bearings, to catch my breath. Will I venture out or shy within? Will I quiet the inner berate and let myself be…this older, greyer, broader me…

I’ll soon be lurching down those thrumming wonder streets…no doubt teary-eyed and aching-hearted. Awed. Loved-up. So very alone. Yet full of the four of you.

And I can’t fucking wait.

 

Running again

It’s been 3 months since I returned to running. Thought I’d pick up where I left off – only 10 years ago. You know, of course I’d be a little dusty, but I’d shake that off soon enough. Nothing to it.

Bought some runners on the net – thought they were soft pink. Actually fluro orange. So loud and damn optimistic. I was embarrassed to put them on – they seemed excessively claiming of space. But they fit. So…

Had to buy a sports bra or 2. Never used to need one. I remember jogging along Manly beach in swimmers. The audacity of it all. The youthful blissful oblivion…perky and all that. It staggers me now. Girl you have no idea…

So have headphones on. A hidden playlist loaded. The volume’s loud enough that I can’t hear my footfalls or panting. If I could, I’d stop with shame.

Lyrics burning my ears “I get stronger with every step!” and “This is my fight song. Take back my life song.” Cheesy but basically true. Nothing highbrow here.

And then the almost fear of sweat. The dripping in public. The scarlet-faced here-I-am-ness. I’m trying. In public. I’m seriously fucking trying.

A guy overtakes me. He’s springy long-legged geared-up. He moves swiftly yet doesn’t puff. I keep shuffling.

And then the sudden pain of shinsplints. Didn’t I kill those fuckers back in the 90’s?! I’d forgotten that particular every-step-pain. Do I keep running despite it? Am not sure if I can or should.

Stumble into the physio’s not long after. Am strapped and chastised duly. Build up to it and don’t throw yourself in. Pace yourself. Take it slow.

Doesn’t she know that anything less than a full bodied hurl won’t work for me. It’s all too easy to stop. To walk. To walk back home. And shut the door.

Walk for 4 minutes and then run for 1. Wow, that’s not going to get awkward. I’m running whilst eyeing my phone for the countdown and the song’s nearing its peak and now walk. Now. But the music’s pounding. Walk dammit.

Someone’s leading their shiny black dog up ahead. They stop as it pees. I’m walking then realise it’s 3mins 58 and I’m nothing if not earnest so you know I’m going to burst into a run right near them. Oh shit. I’m starting to get the giggles deep at the soon to be glory and ok, here we go. She does a polite tight smile and I give her a supersize grin and I’m off. A hobbled it’s only 1 min lurch. She startles. My eyes water with suppression.

Where’s the gazelle – the ponytailed swish – the lithe arms pumping…where the heck did she go. It was only a decade.

Why does even a run have to humble.

But here – almost – now – comes the runner’s rush and I’m thinking I just might be ok…

 

Easter hat parade

Another Easter hat parade to endure. Scores of kids shuffling, stumbling, skipping around the cement yard. Rolls of cardboard on their heads. Baskets and masks stickered and coloured and 2-dollar-shop-Easterfied.

Parents and carers lining the space. Some seated and others standing in the sun.

Me on the side. Feeling the heat and wishing I’d brought my sunglasses. Actually where are they anyway? It’s seriously bright. Gloriously, painfully so.

Watching these dear little faces parading before us. Loved ones beaming at them. Waving. Calling out. A photo. A grin.

This great swathe of love. A rollingness…a swell. My stomach rises as the children near and falls as they leave and here they are again. Two laps. Too much.

And here comes my son. Here he comes shy behind his egg mask. I can hardly bear to look at him. But look at him. See the curve of his neck. His lanky golden legs. His hands in pockets. His funny little shuffling walk. Perfection. What a goddamn honour living near you.

I step away to catch my breath and stem my tears.

All those shining faces…all that clumsy love. Around it goes…