On the sneaker heels of my “addiction” rant, is this one, today:
About how I’m being denied my trail-jog addiction.
And how this one betch is killing my vibe even when I’m not.
You see, I try to make my jogs a peaceful thing. Calm. Tranquil. The opposite of how I used to be at the gym (“The answer’s yes – if you’re on the machine next to me, we’re competing”) And that felt easier when I was the only person I’d see out there every day (aside from these two dudes who walk their dog). But then I came across this girl. She’s the cross-country sort and a destroyer of my serenity all in one. Because it doesn’t matter when I go – morning, noon, and night – she seems to always be there. With her long dark ponytail and soccer posture and overall look that would scream high school tomboy if not for the fact that she’s clearly not in school (judging by the times she runs). And, what’s worse – I rarely encounter her as oncoming traffic. I always notice her turning off another trail or across the street heading my way – about to pass me. And she always does. That bish always passes my ass. Is it because I’m weak? Or is it because I listen to the voice that tells me, “We’re not competing! Do it for you! This is YOUR time! We don’t have to think like that anymore!” She’s on my heels constantly, just like my obsessions and compulsions and my addiction proclivities in general. Nipping at my feet like a feral hound. And I’m sure she’s lovely (we exchanged smiles the one time we did pass each other head on).
But I hate her.
I shouldn’t. I try not to. But I do.
And why’d I hate her even more yesterday?
Maybe it’s because I saw her right after I saw that giant barrier blocking the steps ascending to my trail. My entrance into nirvana. Some people do steps in a program to recover from addiction. As a woman of science, I’ve turned to these tangible steps instead – and access the unknowable once I reach the earthy top. You need only peruse my past musings to see what I mean, but I can best sum it up in a tweaked version of a Nirvana song: “Sunday morning’s every day… ‘cause I found jog!” Such is how I feel when I take to the trail and find my cardio flow. It’s prayer and meditation – with every breath. A jamboree gym and church service alike. Mass amongst the trees with breeze and birdsong for hymnals. It’s everything. It’s my religion.
I’ve found jog.
And here’s this blockade I’m faced with as I stand in the cold torrential downpour.
Like Saint Peter blacklisting me at the gates.
Though it’s sinking into the muddy sludge halfway up the steps, it still stands redoubtably between me and my serenity – my heavenly fix – with the dampened sign indicating that it’ll be closed today. Closed tomorrow (now, today). Closed the next. Why? So they can play the villain from Bambi under the euphemistic guise they describe as “wildlife management control”. Bit redundant – “management” and “control”, I think. I also think three days is too much time to be spending sniping. Can’t we get it done in one? I know a guy or two who can probably come in and get it done in one. If I condoned life-taking of any kind (a principle I consider relinquishing temporarily – but only for whoever put up this sign), I’d probably ask one of them to volunteer. They’d probably oblige. I jettison this Walter Mitty fantasy. Along with the follow-up one where I just limbo under this peace cock-blocker, run the path anyway, and risk getting arrested (which would be far worse than getting shot – which I wouldn’t mind as much “What better way to die than doing something you love?”).
Thus, I dejectedly step down from the halfway mark of my tierra staircase, trying to find the silver lining in this grey day. This grey news. The grey half of the week to come when I can’t indulge something I’m starting to question is god or just another drug. Can I find an alternative? Can I live a few days without this? Can I find god elsewhere? I’m not sure. All I know is that I’m getting half the run I normally would. I find comfort in one fact, I decide:
“Well. It’s freezing and raining and I’m the only one bad ass enough to be out here in thi-….”
There SHE is.
Across the street and rapidly approaching my side. The side where a more measly trail (like the meek vestibule to the real main holy attraction) is – which leads us both back to our mutual starting point. And here she’s coming. Today. Of all days. With this three-day-spanning bad news. When I needed to be the only one out here proving what a tough as nails tough ass bitch I am. She has to show up. Just like my addiction, asking, “Room for one more?” with a snide smile whenever my elevator of pain, rage, pathos, and unpleasant happenstance is crowdedly headed all the way up to the penthouse suite to murder me. I feel my face get hot. I feel the anxiety butterflies rise in my chest and then melt into an acrid shower raining down into my tits, ribs, and belly. Normally this reaction turns into uncontrolled nervousness. Aimless angst I’m incapable of transforming ino awareness, as all the demonic avatars of my addiction simultaneously swamp the shores of my serenity.
They’re gaining on me.
She’s gaining on me.
Usually this is the death knell for that oncoming rage I cannot channel.
I let the world melt away. My feelings about winning. About competing or tranquility. About my obsessions and the steps with the sign at the center. About the odds of losing and the god I’m losing for the next three days. All, gone. And I’m all leg power – racing back to my parked car. This is harder than it sounds, given that the low and short trail gathers more rain, more mud, more puddles. The state of awareness you must enter in order to sprint this path without faceplanting in wet clay and woodland critter crap is next-level. Maybe – in my motivation and openness – I even got a touch of god, come down from the elevated path to kiss my muddy running shoes. Because I beat that betch. And then I went home. And I finished off on the elliptical. And I didn’t feel so godless after. And I didn’t hate CrossCountry so much anymore (even if – when I spell her moniker in my mind – I still skip that second ‘o’..). ’cause I decided what I needed to do to kick her ass and my everyday dependency on something. Decided what I wanted. And forgot about doubt. That’s the thing about an obsession. You lose sight of variety. I can run tranquilly some days, but some days I can channel my inner competitive track star too – both are good. I can do a trail most days, but other days I can settle for something else, too – both are good. It’s not the end of the world or even my inner world when the plan fails me.
Addiction doesn’t play fair.
It comes in all sorts of forms, and from any direction, on any trail.
My job is to expect it, recognize it, and be ready to tweak my means of staying sane the second I see it.