Today, I have a free Saturday yawning ahead of me. I haven't had one since the first week of September. Because of the rain my boss at the orchard told me, and I quote, "stay home and party." I sensibly went for a run instead. Lest you think me either truly dedicated or just plain crazy, I managed to squeeze the run in during a mist, rather than a downpour.
Since living in Washington, Saturday mornings have always been my inviolable running time. Saturdays have always been the one day in the week I can count on for whatever mileage I need. Working in the orchard has put a crimp in my running schedule but as apples are thinning out on the trees and the rain is coming like clockwork, I sense my working days are shortly numbered, indeed. Which is great for my brain.
No, I didn't lose the thread of this blog. Running is as good for my brain as it is for the rest of me. Probably better, actually. I don't run because I love to sweat and breathe hard. There are other, er, more pleasant activities for that. Ahem. I don't run because I need to lose 20 pounds. I don't run because I need to say that I'm a runner. I run because it is the one thing I can do to really empty my brain, my heart, my soul. There is a huge freedom in letting my legs go on autopilot as my lungs fill and empty with clean air and my brain is left to take a mental bubble bath.
I can't think of one crisis in my life that wasn't made a little easier by going for a run. Generally speaking, the bigger the crisis the longer the run. I'm completely aware that my taking up half marathons has a direct correlation to Donald's PTSD. I am comfortable in my own skin and with my own silence. I don't need to come back from a run with all my problems solved; that rarely happens to me. I just need to come home with my brain unfogged, ready to face the problem that remains. My family is fully aware and supportive of my need. One day last summer, during what I've affectionately come to think of as the Summer from Hell, on a particularly awful morning, my husband held me as I sobbed and his only words were, "You need to go running." With various bodily fluids dripping from the holes in my face, I took his advice. I came home with all the moisture evaporated. Several nights ago my youngest came in the bedroom where I was tucked in bed, reading, and said, "Mama, I encourage you to get up early tomorrow and go for a run." Must have been a worse day than even I thought!
Sometimes when I run I do get flashes of brilliance that I often turn into a blog. The mental bubble bath becomes more like mental speech bubbles. Little blips and fragments of semi-schizo conversation. Take this morning, for instance. There I was, three miles in, and feeling blissfully relaxed and empty. Suddenly a little bubble floated up and popped.
"Six months." Okay, I give up. Six months what?
Another floaty bubble. "Your typical six month time frame."
Ahhhh, yes. My six months. Now I knew what I was talking about. (See what I mean by semi-schizo?) Years ago I noticed a pattern in my life. I now call it the Six Month Time Frame. Six months is typically how long it takes me to settle in to a new location and really begin to make it my own. Six months is about how long it takes me to decide where I want to invest my friendship, where I want to be involved in at church, where I want my kids to hang out, where my runs will take me on a regular basis, where I prefer to shop and when. Six months is about how long it takes me to assume something like a normal life after the upheaval of another move, which, if you total all the moves in my life they nearly equal my age; at 38 that number seems utterly ridiculous. This pattern reestablishes itself time and time again, so I feel confident that it's just my own personality design. I do know plenty of people who jump straight in, eyes shut, and arms open. A shaker and mover in this area, I am not.
We've been in Salem 7 months. It's just been since September that I sense we are building what passes for a normal American life. We moved to Salem with two sets of friends in place and between them they have succeeded in introducing us to people who are becoming not only our small group but also our community. The house we are buying is located just blocks away from most of them. Our church is the first thing we established here and the people there have been so welcoming. There is even one older lady who has "adopted" our boys because she only has granddaughters and she doesn't get to see them very often. Having jobs has further established our sense of belonging and having a house of our own, one that doesn't rock with the wind, will be the icing on the settling-in cake.
I'm often surprised by where my running will mentally take me. An innocent speech bubble catalyzed a tremendous sense of calm and well being, a sense of "I belong." I also find that well being is accompanied simultaneously with gratitude. Now, armed with those dual pistols, I must figure out what to do with the rest of the day!