Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I've got tendonitis again... how about those swim lanes?

I’VE GOT TENDONITIS AGAIN; this time in the left peroneal tendon: the string of tissue that attaches the outer part of the ankle to the knee. It’s a little like being stabbed with a steak knife as I walk-- or, especially run-- so I’ve got to take it easy for a day or so. Ice and rest and all of that RICE remedy-crap that’s become second nature to me as I transition from water-creature back to land. 

But now I wonder: have I? 

I’m moving in two days. Or, I will move. The books, the furniture, the cat and dishes and towels (but not the foam roller), the rugs, the lamps, the shoes (but not the running shoes) and the art have all been packed and moved without me. 
Now, I’m living in an empty white box, sitting on the floor with my computer propped up on the only cardboard box I bought from Home Depot which remains, filled with the books I’ll use to teach my various sections of English 101. 

Am I excited? 

I’ve been asked this countless times in the weeks leading up to this life-change and of course the answer is: yes. I imagine all these changes will be exciting: the new color of the walls and the smell of them; the challenge of arranging furniture and, in turn, arranging my life around its new, confined borders of time and place. I know, for a while, the promise of dawn will return. The question: “who knows what the day will bring?” will once again become a valid one because I really won’t know what to expect from my sea of unknown students, the administration under which I’ll work or even the new demands of myself, coming home as a “grown up” (sort of) but not really, solid and strong-- and (unexpectedly) a swimmer. 

What can I expect of me

I had imagined myself coming back to Reno a runner, just as I’d left. Running all over trails and training on the track that’s only a block from where I’ll be staying; running up hills and through the forest even when it snows because-- fuck it!-- I love to run.  But the distance between the 28-year old who left and the 31-year old who’s returning is more than just a body. 

What do three years and a new medium mean?  As I’m currently surrounded by white (walls, carpet, linoleum) I’m tempted to say it could mean anything. But life so far has taught me that it’s unwise to be so blindly optimistic-- everything in life which begins will end and the end will suck and the older you get the harder it is to get over whatever-it-is ending. 

Like my ability to run. (I’m tempted to say: my belief that I can write. Whoops. I said it. Damn.)  Maybe I was drawn to long distance running because of its philosophical underpinnings: that every step offered its own small transformation and the (muted, but present) promise that we all exist in a constant state of becoming, moving toward the more beautiful, the more sublime, the more exhausted. 

Swimming has a different (implied) philosophy. Or, it does for me since I do so few open water swims. When I swim I move back and forth in the pool over terrain I’ve already covered a lot.  Down and back. Again. And again. 50-meters (if you’re lucky) and flip-turn with the quick “hi, legs!”glimpse and then you’re headed back the way you came to the familiar concrete wall. 

Oddly, swimming reminds me of my writing (lately): a lot of going back and forth, feeling (mildly) unpleasant doing so, maybe unpresentable (swim-cap, wet, wearing something that’s skin-tight in all the wrong ways) always vulnerable (letting it all hang out there, dripping wet, no mascara) and, yes, having trouble breathing because of what you’ve just done. 

I hope I can figure myself out in this transition. Writers, you know, have a responsibility to the world: we transcribe reality into some larger thing called “truth”-- some of it pleasant, most of it not and we hope it’s all mildly interesting.  Everything, though, has its history and time and context. Everything is, when you try to write it, to pin it down and define it, is complicated and beyond our methods of human transcription. 

Am I up to this task? 

Of all the questions, this is the one I know I can answer (with a few footnotes, not included here): 

Yes, yes and yes.