Backwards Forwards

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Times I have gone running this week: Six.

Six times that the cleanest, coldest air has swished through my brain like nature’s mouthwash, picking up my excess thoughts and carrying them away. I run through the city college, the one I pictured myself going to when I was a little kid. The technicality that differentiates running from walking, the split seconds in which both my feet are off the ground and I am momentarily flying, tell me that I am resilient and can make myself weightless. Only sort of true. But I am in constant motion. Actually, now I am stopped at a stoplight, watching my breath spiral into vapor.

Times I have called my dad this week: Five.

I am staying with my mom until I find a job but I am also calling my dad. We are closer because of cell phones, if only because his calls are no longer charged as long-distance. Over the phone, every pause he takes is both staccato and extended, made poignant by the way I have to fill the space myself—imagining him furrowing his brow in thought rather than seeing it right in front of me.

Times I have bought something online this week: Four.

A book, thick socks, an Mp3 album, and a necklace. Though I didn’t really ‘need’ the necklace or my own copy of the book, I think it’s a good thing I bought them because I want to be able to treat money like what it is (a bunch of germ-covered slips of paper filled with thread that I can trade for things) instead of hoarding it in fear that something horrid will happen to me and I won’t have enough. I became unemployed and my mom caught me gracefully, like a silky trampoline, and is currently trying to help me bounce back up. I still download hard copies of music because I want to know that, even without the Internet or 3G, it will be there if I need to listen to it. I feel like this may be gentle hoarding. I have all my Aretha Franklin albums as physical discs. Sometimes I even travel with them. Also, there is no greater physical comfort than thick socks.

Times I have eaten a wild rice burger this week: Three.

Buying a veggie burger anywhere in the United States except the North is always a bad idea. Please quote me on that.

Times I have driven to the beach alone to look at the ice: Two.

There are two ways to look at nature, sort of. You either look at it and think about what it is, or you think about yourself. Sometimes I look out at the vast expanse of the lake, unable to see land on the other side, and think back on things I’ve done. I don’t wish I’d changed my job performance or my classes. Tiny things, conversations I had as an undergrad, various people I’d spent time with, circle around the drain at the base of my mind but are never quite able to fall through the holes and be gone. There are places I could have had more energy, been more positive or outgoing. Places I could have spoke out, but mostly places I should have stepped back. Other times, though, I look out at the lake and see it for itself. Smooth as sky-colored glass, or gray and choppy with inhuman rage. Goes farther than I could ever see at once and deeper than I could ever dive or touch. If I’m really lucky, I’ll come down to the water and find the lake and the sky existing seamless, as if someone folded the most light and creamy of blues in half, not quite creasing, which makes it possible to float in the lower layer while looking up and letting my eyes get lost in the top. I like that best, savor it, store the feeling in my mind for when I need it.

Times I have asked for help: One.

And one is good. One is a good start.

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