I had class last night until 7. It was our nonfiction workshop seminar, which I’m both loving and hating. It is my favorite class, actually; the one that allows me to think constantly about this thing called writing, how to do it and how one must bend words like a metallurgist casts a perfect steel in order to create a sword, like I try to cast now and then a rapier wit. And yet, there are those days (or, more accurately) moments when I don’t like it so much, when I really, really despise the snippety comments from the girl sitting (ha! accidently just typed “shitting”. She might have been doing that, too) next to me when I offer another writer advice and she says: “What you just said is in another piece this person wrote” as though I am supposed to know that. Those moments, though, are few and far between-- thank heavens.
Afterward, I attended the first of many Wednesday night readings. Last night, it was author Joshua Braff, once a Saint Mary’s MFA student and now a twice-published novelist. I enjoyed the reading a lot-- the only thing I didn’t enjoy, however, was the fact that I didn’t get home until well after 9 o’clock and I had a speed workout this morning early on the track. I suppose under normal circumstances, a three-hour seminar class and a reading immediately afterward would normally not be so much of a big deal: but I started to feel the constraints I’ve placed on myself when, after the questions were asked and the crowd began to disperse, I was not in the throng which headed toward the nearest watering whole to discuss the work over a cold one.
I couldn’t go out and drink: there was just no way. I had a speed session today (which, considering the sort of week I’ve had) went OK. I have pages to read and pages to write; I have a team to coach and functions I need to show up for. And somehow in all that I have to find time to bathe and eat-- funny, I know, but those two things are often left by the wayside.
I’ve never been fond of the image of the solitary runner; or of the person who separates themselves away from the crowd. Or rather, that’s been my tendency most of my life and recently I’ve found a sort of pleasure in being around people, some of the time. Last night, though, as they all wandered off together I knew I would be missing out on a bonding experience and probably some interesting comments. I knew others might see me as being “stuck up” or “too good” to spend my time with them. But it is neither of those things that really bother me (I know they are simply not the case), but the notion that despite my efforts to the contrary, I am the solitary runner; I am away from the crowd. Perhaps that is my personality and I should stop trying to change that.
But the track was beautiful this morning. I ran at Miramonte High School, which is roughly a mile from my house. The track is placed up on a hill and overlooks the treed neighborhood around it. The fog had just begun to lift from the coastal range, casting the dawn in rosy pinks across a pale blue. An East Indian woman walked with the aid of a cane around the periphery of the track and settled on a bench used by football players on the infield as I finished my 2-mile warmup. She started Eastward, watching the shifting hues, motionless. There was something so beautiful, yet so solitary, about her I wish I could pin it down-- whatever it was I saw, that struck me.
Today I did 2 x 1600, 2 x 800, 4 x 400. It felt like an easy workout, actually, though I admit my mind wasn’t present when I ran that first mile repeat (which I was able to run under my goal pace for the marathon, so whatever.)
High school kids in PE class arrived for class on the field as I was finishing up my workout. There were a few shouts of “run faster!” but they were, for the most part, silent. Only one-- a kid I think was called Daniel-- ran next to me as I was cooling down. I said to him: “You should have paced me through my 400s!” because it was sort of odd, having him run next to me like that, not saying anything. But then he sprinted ahead of me to the end of the curve, turned and said: “I beat you! I beat you!” Funny.
And now I’m back to writing and preparing for class. I’ll double today, after I’ve gone to class and and read at least another fifty pages. Perhaps it is not a bad thing to be always alone, always in pursuit in dreams that matter to me, even if they matter to not a single other person in the world. I guess I just have to accept that, just like I have to swallow my pride from time to time when my personality comes face to face with another I don’t appreciate whether in the form of a peer or a random high school boy.