A week ago, the forecast called for this weekend to be beautiful. 60’s and sunny, maybe a few clouds.
As we should have come to expect by now in the mid-Atlantic region, that was not the case. It rained all weekend. That was fine, at first. Showers bring flowers, right? Then, Sunday morning, the rain got very cold. Soon it turned to hail, and soon it turned to snow. Soon the ground was covered in white again.
I became angry. I steeled myself for this winter. I set major goals to keep my mind focused and on task instead of complaining about the weather. I scheduled two trips South and a slew of races. I made lists of all my calming mechanisms when my rest-of-the-year-round go-to of taking a walk wasn’t an option. But yesterday, as entered the third week of not being allowed to run on my ankle injury, as I watched lower-seeded UConn and Kentucky make it to the Final Four, and as I watched huge flakes of snow cover the ground in white two days before April, after how long I’ve waited for nice weather again, I cursed. I blamed the whole world for causing climate change and I blamed nobody at all. I slipped under my covers and fell asleep just hoping when I woke up it would have gotten warmer and become just rain again.
I would have been happy with just rain. I would have been happy with being allowed to run a single mile without fear of regressing my injury. I would have been happy if at least one of my picks for the Championship had made the Final Four. But screw March- sometimes all of life is Madness.
Tonight, with the window open to the birds chirping and the 70-degree warm breeze not 24 hours after snow fell, I found myself having trouble breathing.
Sometimes I can go for weeks like the Energizer Bunny, not even letting an injury slow me down. Can’t run? Okay. I’ll watch enough basketball to make up for all the games I missed during the regular season. I’ll reallyˆread my assigned grad school reading instead of skimming. I’ll even turn my work in early. I’ll read for pleasure instead of feeling guilty that I should either be working out or working on school – because one I can’t do and one I got done. I’ll even catch up on my favorite TV shows I usually have to wait six months later for to come out on Netflix.
I can go for weeks letting nothing bother me. And then one day all at once I lay down for a second and all the things that haven’t been bothering me plus all the new things the day has brought weigh on me like a house and I can’t lift my chest with breath intake, much less my body from my bed. I’m paralyzed. My body shakes inside; my blood flies around in a frenzy, but on the outside I’m still. My brain says Get up and my body won’t listen.
I had to call my mom. I felt lonely and was filled with self-loathing. You’re a loser. You’re alone. You have three friends and eventually you’ll lose them too. You’re annoying. You annoy all your friends until they leave you. You leave them. You play the victim. That’s what that one person said so it must be true. You’re not really that smart — you can’t balance a chemical equation, you never could no matter how hard you made yourself think, therefore you are totally an idiot, no matter what else you might be able to do or think. You’re a stupid ugly annoying loser.
“Mom?” I said into the phone. You’re pathetic, I heard my voice say.
“Can you help me with something?” You’re 25 years old you fucking loser.
“Be right there.”
When my mom arrived she asked what was wrong. “Can you help me sit up?”
A few minutes later I was outside, taking a few steps down the street. I decided walking for 20 minutes on my ankle was worth a little regression if it was going to help me breathe better and clear my head. My own voice followed me down the sidewalk everywhere. I both wished I had a notepad and was glad I didn’t bring it — when I lose control of how I speak to myself about myself I want to write it all down. I always want to write all my thoughts down. I have trouble letting a thought go. What if it’s important later? I try to picture a thought like a balloon that I let go. I do, and then another balloon appears in my hand like a computer game of people at the fair, standing in line at a balloon vendor. One after the other after the other after the other.
I heard a little girl giggling. I’d taken four steps. A little girl, barely 4, if that, was helping her mother turn soil over in their front yard. I listened to them instead of myself. I kept walking. You’ll never get out of this neighborhood. I listened to a bird chirp. You’ve gotten fat since you haven’t been running. I listened to a twig break. Stop feeling so sorry for yourself. I listened to a car start in the distance.
Eventually I rounded a corner and started back for home. I wondered if I should participate in the Cherry Blossom race this weekend. I wondered what the “How I Met Your Mother” finale was going to tell us about our favorite characters. I wondered what time the sun would set.
Maybe tomorrow it will snow again. The forecast says it won’t, but these days betting on snow is about as safe as betting an 8-seed Kentucky will beat Wichita State and Louisville to make it to the Final Four, so who knows what tomorrow brings. Maybe it will snow. But then eventually it will rain again and wash the snow away.
And I’ll take another walk.