My most bittersweet journey to date was made with a friend I’d first known as a sequence of blinking green letters on a black screen.
In 1993, Nathan and I started chatting on local bulletin boards before meeting up in person and becoming in fast friends. In 2008, with many years of history between us, he drove me and my newborn son up to Oregon say goodbye to my dying mom.
Nathan was my first online friend to become an offline friend, but I’ve made many more in the 21 years since then. In fact, almost all of my Los Angeles friendships began as virtual ones.
Mackenzie and I met thanks to our affection for the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer; she has been a rock to me since almost the moment we met.
Maggie and I first blog-bonded over our common love of Gandalf before she introduced me to her high school girlfriends, who adopted me as one of their own; I thanked two of them in this shout-out to teachers.
It was Maggie who introduced me to my now husband shortly before I moved to Japan. My second son was born ten years to the day after that meeting.
To say I’m open to beginning friendships online is an understatement. Read more…
With my littlest one on my chest and my iPad in hand, I’d like to tell you a little about a blogger named Rara.
I met her only once. Her candid but peaceable demeanor set even my introverted self at ease. She was who she was, with no need to hide, conceal or filter, and the end result was still beautiful.
When she mentioned legal troubles, I had no idea that they were still in progress. I had no idea she would soon be in jail, tired of the time, expense and energy involved in fighting bogus charges. Read more…
I subscribe to several hundred blogs.
Some of the bloggers I follow are work-at-home moms. Others are work-at-home dads.
Many of these blogs are by moms and dads working outside the home. Some have kids with special needs; others have kids who are physically and neurally “typical.” Still others of the blogs I follow are written by folks who have no kids; some never want to have kids.
I follow a handful of teens, as well as some college students. I follow others whose age and parental experiences are totally unknown to me, because they choose to focus on one part of their experience: their faith, their crafts, their hardships with a specific aspect of their lives, like mental illness or being gay within hostile communities.
Apart from the fact we are all human with the same physiological needs, the bloggers I follow have just one thing in common: Read more…
“Only three miles left! How’s that feel?”
“Like hell,” I spat through gritted teeth.
Rightfully not taking my grumbled response personally, the lady laughed and offered up some orange slices. I offered the heartiest thanks I could muster as I nabbed these while
cruising crawling up a molehill that felt like Everest.
I hadn’t planned to run that first marathon. In fact, I’d only started running because I figured I could complete an entire run in the amount of time it would take me just to travel between gym and home. Pacing wasn’t an important part of the running I’d been doing before I started the 2004 L.A. Marathon, which I did for no greater reason than that my roommate said a couple weeks beforehand, “You’re running so much, you should run the marathon!”
I started the marathon the way I started most my runs: with as much speed as I could muster. I raced through the first ten miles at a 6- and 7-minute per mile clip. I was on top of the world!
Around mile 17, I learned how running a marathon is not like going for a two-hour run around your neighborhood. You’re in it for the long haul, not just for as long as you feel like running.
Around mile 24, I was barely moving. I was so lost in the effort of making it one more step (and praying I’d pass out so I could stop running), I didn’t have enough energy to believe in myself.
Fortunately, others not only believed in me but vocally urged me onward. Someone would yell, “Almost there, 6287!” and I’d think, “You know, they’re right! I am almost there!” I’d push myself back up toward speeds almost qualifiable as running speeds, and keep them going for a full minute or two before I flagged again.
When downtown Los Angeles came into sight, my fists flew up in an unplanned demonstration of primal glee. Right after that, I thought, with a lot more swearing, “I don’t like the telescoping lens effect in horror movies and I like it less here. @#$)@#*%!”
I kept running.
By the time I rounded the last corner, a block seemed like an eternity. Keeping up a crawl was taking everything I had.
“6287,” someone shouted. “You’re looking tired!”
No sh!t, Sherlock, I thought graciously.
“You’re looking tired, but you’ve got this! Sprint it! I know you’ve got it in you!”
I couldn’t see the person who yelled this encouragement, but I believed him. I looked at the finish line looming and thought, “Hell, yeah, I can do this!”
I steeled myself and I ran. I didn’t crawl, I didn’t doubt, I didn’t do anything but run.
I crossed that finish line and I wept like a little girl who’s told she’s never going to have ice cream again. Ever. But my tears had a different source: I’d done it. And I’d done it, in part, due to orange slices, high fives, and people shouting me on when I didn’t have enough room in my heart to believe in myself.
It’s been ten months since I ran my half marathon in Portland. In those months, until this morning, I’ve run only twice. The first run was twelve minutes; the second, sixteen.
This morning I told myself I’d run fifteen minutes. Instead, I ran twenty. I doubtfully ran even one-tenth the distance I covered in either marathon I’ve run, but it was a challenge nevertheless. It’s always a challenge coming back to something after a long break. Am I still good for this?
I thought of all those folks who cheered me on when I so needed it. I thought, too, of all the kind words you have shared when I needed them here, and the way you did the same in response to Darla’s raw, personal, breathtaking reflections on gratitude.
Your words mean something. In the end, it’s the runner herself who will or will not find what it takes to finish that marathon, or to push the “Publish” button no matter her doubts. But I believe more and more each day races are finished with the support of the people whose faith in us helped us overcome our own doubts before and during, and whose Gatorade and movie marathons afterward remind us that we’ll make it through the challenges to come, too.
Thank you for that, dear readers.
Thank you, “Sherlock.”