Thursday, June 30, 2016

Flight of the Fireflies

I heard it once be said that if you're going to run, run like a deer running through the woods. I've taken that saying to heart. And when I do run, I try to run with reckless abandon. It's either all or nothing. I'm either not running or I am aspiring to run fifty miles through the Appalachian Mountains. There is very rarely anything in between. 

When I first started my new job in April, I didn't run for two months. Surprisingly, I didn't miss it. I used the time to get used to my new schedule and to learn my new responsibilities. With my schedule changing weekly, I wasn't exactly sure when I would find time to run. I was content, having no other distractions than work and family.

But when I started running again, I realized that I missed the tension of the underlying--almost subconscious--narrative that connected my days and weeks. Without running, I had few real goals and few ways to frame my existence. Without running my days can run together: get up, get the kids ready for school, work, etc. Every day has the potential of being more or less the same. But when I'm running, my runs, at least, are different and serve as markers that differentiate one day from the other.

A few weeks ago, I came back from a run with a pain in the top of my foot. This was June 15, and I have not run since. I've been to a physical therapist who diagnosed it as tendinitis, but after two physical therapy sessions and two weeks of rolling my calves with a foam roller and ice, I'm starting to wonder if it is perhaps not another stress fracture in one of the small bones in my foot.

When I'm injured (and especially when I don't know the exact nature of the injury), I have a tendency to become somewhat...well, if not melancholic....then definitely lacking in affect. I know "runner's blues" is ridiculous to even entertain with so much legitimate pain and suffering in the world, but it doesn't affect my mood any less. I think when your body is used to receiving a certain serving of endorphins everyday and then all of a sudden that supply is gone, there is some biochemical reaction at play. Knowing that doesn't make me any more fun to be around.

Elise has pointed out that running is not sustainable. That I can't run forever and that at some point I'll be too old or frail or decrepit to run. What then? Will I just become that old man that sits around and drinks too much and yells at kids for climbing in trees. She's right, of course. On many levels, I know this to be true. I just don't know what else to do. I have ideas....ride my bike, go to the rock climbing gym, yoga....but I just can't seem to give up on running yet. 

Summer is here.

The kids are out of school, and though Elise has planned three pool parties for them this week, the transition has not been easy. I feel a lot like we are in the same place we were when we got back from India, somewhat disoriented, very dislocated. The kids thrive on schedule and, like me without my endorphins, all of the sudden they have no schedule and they are going through withdrawals. 

The boys were incredibly sad when school was over. That lasted for all of about ten minutes, then they were asking Elise and I what they could do, complaining that they were bored, and begging to watch Netflix on the iPad. 

In general, the kids have been absolutely insane. I am hoping they are just somewhat out of sorts and that soon they will fall into routine of having no routine. But it's hair-pulling maddening to listen to them argue at 7:00 in the morning over turning the lights on and off. 

This has been...probably...mostly...almost....definitely....the worst week since we moved to Falls Church. I'm begging for the week to be over, wishing it away, not knowing if next week will be any better, not really knowing what to do to make sure it is, but just glad I'll be home for three days in between. 

I was washing dishes at the sink one evening last week. It was late almost nine, but the sun goes down late here in June, and it was still dusk. When I saw a a phosphorescent trail whizz through the bushes in the backyard through the window at the sink. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me, but then I saw it again. And--recalling late Mays in Baltimore--I knew what were causing the moon dust-like trails that looked like shooting stars. Fireflies. I immediately called for Elise and she came to the window, too, and saw them. It was magical. Like fairies or a twinkling string of lights. 

The kids were already asleep, but Sam stayed up late enough to see them the next night and Pete and Lulu late enough to see them the night after that. Standing on the windowsill of the window in the dining room that's looks out over the backyard.

I may not be able to run and the kids are acting bat-shit crazy, but, for a short time at any rate, a month or so I am told, we have magic in our backyard. 

Let the summer begin.....

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