September 6, 2011

Dear Jesus,

If I ask you to take me in, will you? If I ask you what it means to be taken in, will you tell me? If I ask you why I even care so much, what will be your response? With the help of a couple close friends I've decided it's time to communicate with you again. It will look like a discipline at first, I'm sure, but that's how many things begin. Just as it's time to stay in one place and allow myself the opportunity to realize that freedom might come just as fully in the form of solidity and assurance as it does in movement. That being said, last night as I ran into the darkness, past abundant fields and houses warm with light, the dampness of evening turning to night coating my skin, I was aware of how still my soul was. It was similar to the night I finished the sodus house. I walked into E's place and he held me and all was calm, which reminds me of the days I sprawl in the grass as far from people as I can get and stare at the sky or close my eyes and hear only the air as it brushes over my mind, cleanses my heart. There's a sense of calm that my insides notice as something unnecessarily rare, something powerful, something needed. I've found that stillness in different ways since I first met you. I've found it in the almost imperceptible pat of my feet along the ground as the miles tick behind me, I've found it in merging my days, nights, thoughts, ideas and desires with those of another individual, and I've found it in putting all thoughts of life aside and asking you to take me in.
People want proof. And you know God, I want to be able to give it to them. I want to be able to explain who you are, how I know you're the real deal, how it is that I'm certain that the power you hold can't be explained by something as obvious as the power that appears when any group of people join together to do anything at all. There is power in a group of people believing in something whether it's weight loss, environmental conservation, inner-city development, or God. People create movements. But I'm not looking for a movement. Not anymore. I'm looking for something real that I can carry with me into my real life filled with real people who do real things and laugh at real moments and struggle with real issues. I've tried yoga. I love it. But that point it brings me to is the same point I get to on a long solo-run, the same point I hit when I sense myself meshing seamlessly with another individual. I find myself muttering in another language, aware of every natural sound around me, unaware of traffic, unidentifiable people, tomorrows events or the structure I'm inside. The other things that set me free, they bring me back to you.
Yesterday Amy took my hand and dragged me to the top of a set of stairs leading to a church somewhere in South Wedge. She told me to pray. I couldn't do it. Not because I don't know how, but because I know how far too well. I could pray all day without stumbling or stuttering or pausing once. I don't want to know how to do this anymore, I want to be this. I don't want to read the right books, listen to the right music, say amen at the right times. I want to see you in my life in all your TRUTH with all the reality of who you are and what that can look like in THIS world. Maybe I've made so many mistakes I can't be forgiven and won't ever find myself on the same road I once sought. Or maybe I'm about to arrive at something even less understood than what I knew before. Maybe I'm about to be more me, more you, more alive than I ever have been before. That's what I want. But Jesus, I also want to be clean. So whatever that means, you have my permission: wash me, and please, please take me in.

September 1, 2011

When the Mountains Close

I've been sculpting an idea which has slowly turned into a plan since November 2010.
Step 1: go to Rochester, live with Laura
Step 2: get a job
Step 3: live simply and with frugality in order to pay off your student loans asap
Step 4: make a little extra money
Step 5: September 1, 2011: embark on a one month odyssey in the Adirondack Mountains. Alone.

Today is Thursday, September 1, 2011. The air is thick and cool following a morning thunder shower. My foot aches from stepping on a nail yesterday afternoon while running from the noise in my head. I swear I can smell the grass, sweet and bitter, dirt mixed with dew, clorophyl covered in raindrops. If not for the lightness of the sky and the coffee by my side I would believe the crickets that dusk is falling and night is almost come.

I'm more than 250 miles from the Adirondack Park with no plans for departure.

People change, sometimes, without realizing it. One morning you wake up no longer wanting to be a teacher, a student, a mother. Maybe one day you crave spinach at every meal when the day before just the thought of anything green drove you to the candy isle.

A month ago I took a shower, forgetting to bring clean clothes in from my trunk before I got in. Dripping and dazed, I walked across the gravel to my car, feet bare, wrapped in a towel that wasn't mine. I popped the trunk and stared- a mass of colored fabrics lay in a heap, nothing to distinguih the worn from the unworn except memories in the form of snapshots of where I'd been, what I'd done. I took clean underwear from the cardboard box to the right and a new rubber hairband from the box to the left. I grabbed deoderant from the center console, flipflops from the passenger side floor, browning bananas from the back seat. Before getting dressed I lit incense, turned on Paul Cardall, and washed the dishes in the sink. I put away the jars I brought in from my car in a Gevalia box the night before- soynuts, muesli, honey, peanut butter, organic animal crackers, and started a loaf of bread in the bread machine.

I want a home. I want to retrieve my underwear from a drawer. I want to make you cake and hot cocoa, tea and cookies, potroast and venison stew. I want to be missed when I'm not at church on Sunday morning. I want to find six people to help me move a free piano into my own place.

Place. I want a sense of place, my own place, a sense of purpose, a meaning other than watching numbers grow and checking off adventures. The thoughts of signing a lease, taking a job, moving a bed into a building scare me. The fear is real, but it's smothered in excitement, anticipation of what might happen if I dare to create a place for roots to sink...
it's been years; it's been too long.

August 25, 2011

What I know

The incense burning on the cookie tray in front of me is promising more refreshment than the melon I balanced between my moccasins and my new account of Truman Capote's life while unlocking the door to Laura's apartment an hour ago. Make a note of this: I have no desire to run, and after a night of staying awake listening to the thunder push its way through the rain and watching the lightening flash on the undersides of my eyelids, I don't have much energy for anything other than mixing coffee grounds with cardamom and water and watching froth form from my place on the counter by the stove. None of it is mine. I put the mug to my lips, taste the strength, taste the heat, and am grateful for the people who say they love me and the ones who don't say a thing. I believe in being swept away but haven't figured out how to let go. When I look at a tree I find I am still and stirred. What I see is amazing, overwhelmingly complex and strong yet beautiful, but what I don't see is that there would be no tree if not for its roots, as wide as the canopy.. and it's been said a billion times before, the analogy is old.. but true, and tough [for me]. Remember when we ate Panera bread donated to and rejected by the homeless shelter around the corner for dinner every night for a week? We heated tea in the microwave hoping the circuit wouldn't pop when we used the toaster at the same time, lest one of us would have to squeeze behind the banquet table and duck into the basement with the faint light of a cell phone. We watched the world from the roof and thought maybe, just maybe there was something we could do that would bring us fulfillment every day for the rest of our lives. We would rent the upstairs apartment just north of the Ben Franklin bridge and convince ourselves we were home. Maybe next year. I still want to know Jesus more than I want anything else. It's frustrating to you, right? It's frustrating to me too. More than anyone knows. I believe in love despite my inability to accept it when you tell me. The love I know heals your body, releases your broken spirit, fills your hidden cracks and corners with patience, understanding, reassurance. The love I know requires little to trust and much to escape from. There is no hesitancy. I'm tired, yes, but this is what I know: mangoes taste better when I eat the skin, and I'm ready to buy moccasin boots. Let the leaves fall. Take me to the mountains and let me move. Lead me to the river and let me flow.

And oh soul, arise.

July 27, 2011

bits (again)

pre-run: i poured three inches of coffee into my mug instead of one, added chocolate teddy grahams to my everyday banana, and tied on my merrill pacegloves knowing i'd be running farther than my feet were "ready" to run in them.

i left without asking them if i could take the week off. and i wondered what the world would be like if every person tuned into who they are, what they want and what they need daily, knowing that with each rising sun those things might shift completely.

i bought vermouth and made myself a martini in a mini wine glass.

what does it mean when a day of roasting eggplants in my mothers oven, dicing tomatoes on the cutting board my father made with the knife he sharpened, plucking parsley and basil out of the garden barefoot under the incessant gaze of a descending sun and mixing flour with baking powder with beer and rubbing raw egg into it with my bare hands makes me breathe deeply, realize my spirit is still very much alive, and wonder if life isn't something we have to find after all, but rather something that we only have to release ourselves into and allow ourselves to experience.

God and i have some talking to do. i want to know why i experience things in extremes- why those three months in college pushed me to a place where He was all i wanted, all i needed, all i pursued, all i really found. why my appreciation for life came at the expense of giving up almost everything that would appear normal from the perspective of another. why five mile runs aren't enough for me. why a month in the mountains seems the only thing that just might cure this, what has been insatiable, need to be free. i want to know why sometimes i want a garden, a pear tree, bees, naked babies to catch fireflies and butterflies and eat cookie dough with, and sometimes i want to put my life in a backpack, fly to mozambique and spend the rest of my life believing God to provide my food and keep me free from disease while i give orphans homes and prove, to both them and myself, that love is, after all, the only thing that can really change anything, the only thing that matters at all.

i believe life is about people. i remember when you told me that, you with your incredible gray bulgarian eyes. you said "for me life is about the people". i looked at you and i swear i really saw you, beyond the eyeliner and the perfect physique and the straight A's, but i wasn't sure i agreed. maria darling, i agree now. life is about the people.
and it's knowing who you are outside of what anyone else sees or would want you to be. i believe it's okay to disappoint. there are some addictions that are okay. the sun rises hoping we'll watch it and be pleased, but even when we don't it's just as faithful to bring forth another day.

there aren't answers for why her mom died mere weeks before her wedding, why his father died just days before his high school graduation, why you take pills to keep yourself happy. there aren't answers for why you and i work despite the naysayers and "good points".

i know this: by now i really think i know when it's real and when it's not. i know when i'm fulfilled, when i'm happy, and the difference between pain and discomfort. i'll wear my new red leather minnetonkas, but i'm still going to keep my paint covered, practically soleless pair in a prime location in my car- there will be times when i'll need them for the comfort of the memories. it's similar to why i let myself into her apartment monday morning, pulled my pink patchwork quilt out of the corner and layed on her couch all afternoon in the skirt the woman in ghana made me two years prior.

that being said, sometimes i convince myself i have no idea where the lines are between right and wrong. i can't tell the difference between black and gray and i'm not sure i want to be taught anymore.

i want the birds to perch on my piano, the one with the chipped ivory keys, while i play for the flowers and the ferns.

(my hair was straight so i floated down the river
on my back)

June 12, 2011

The wind in the trees

My head is fuzzy beneath my green and yellow wrap, but when I breathe in slowly, deeply, the air pushing off the river fills my lungs, my chest, my fragmented mind, and I believe that it is time to force myseld to find some words. I haven't written anything in days, not even a few sentences in my red moleskin book (thank you, sarah) for my own selfish soul. It's because I've been sick for over a week, right? Because my days have been so full of sunny skies and lengthy runs and paint fumes.

Thursday night I dragged out some old journals- from 2008/2009. I was cooly surprised by what I found. I expected to find a girl who could speak of nothing but her all-consuming love for a God she discovered years before, a girl who knew what her dreams were, knew what she wanted, and thought she knew where she was going. A girl restless but satisfied. Without revealing myself word for word, I found instead someone struggling with the collision point between the expected and the desired. She knew God had something profound for her life; she was driven by some unexplainable force to go.. to set aside the common life and attempt to find a sense of being, belonging, total loss and completion in something less-defined, less known, more her own.

Three weeks ago I sat around a fire with a girl who knows my soul as well as I do, a boy who three months prior told the girl to tell me to stop running (in life), and another boy whose quiet, substantial eyes led me to scribble my number on a post-it note at a temp assignment. What is now fondly referred to as "the happiness circle" was developed that night. "I'm happy when..".. "---- makes me happy"..

A week later two giggly, excitable girls approached myself and the boy with the eyes while walking on the canal.
"Can we ask you a question on video for our AP Psychology final project?!"
of course.
"What makes you happy??"

What makes you happy. What makes me happy..?
A thousand things. A million things! I've never loved my life as much as I do right now. The people filling my days and weeks, whether in body, in extensive phone conversations, or through thoughtful emails, are some of the very best I've ever had in my life. I have at least three places I can easily call home and half a dozen more that feel like my own. I have no boss, no one to report to or check in with. Hundreds of mountains await me a short trip from my current locations. My student loans are so close to being paid, without a required payment until 2014. My body is allowing me to do things it never could before. There is a place within me that is happier, more calm and at peace than it ever has been.

This will not sound nearly as fluid a thought when written, as it has been running in me over the course of a few weeks, yet I have to continue here to say the following:
I believe I've found that happiness and fulfillment are not the same thing. If you search your soul, not forgetting to engage your spirit as fully as you are able, and can truly say that you have both simultaneously, I believe you've arrived at something monumental. As for me, I have not. That's not intended to be depressing, at least it's not for me, it's just something I've realized.. something I long to grasp for myself, to attain in this life.

And now my fuzzy head is overpowering this incredible 6pm northcountry air..
and still, I really just want to climb some stuff. :D

May 26, 2011

I climbed a mountain

yesterday. when i got home i tied on my running shoes, and ran. trails, railroad tracks, a small loop past a small farm in a small town.
i'm dangerously close to being debt-free. and by 'dangerously' i mean there's no reason i can't call it good and move on to something newer, free-er, less here and more there any one of these lengthening days.
my soul is stirring and it wants so very much to be released, but the piano seems insurmountable and the pavement has lost its appeal.
when i ran out of the river and into your arms, i was happy. and warm. but what is happy. and even when i know what happy is, is it enough?
i wonder just how far back all of this really goes.. does it go back to that summer i fell in love with a house of strangers and found out that judgement can kill and guitars can bring freedom and grand pianos sound better when you're barefoot.
or maybe it goes back to the red dirt. oh, that's something.. i know that's something. i can't get over that and i can't go back to that.. not in my mind, not in photographs, not in the natural. but i'm going back to that.
or maybe this is really about saying i would go anywhere, do anything, and being driven in the dark to a place i didn't recognize, in a vehicle i'd never been in, to a place i couldn't locate on a map, and having no idea how to find my way out..
when i'm on a beach in the woods caged in by metal canoes and people who redefine beauty, i am happy.. but my soul begins to stir, my thoughts get ragged, and i'm driven to the mountains-
where all i need is my backpack. and a few weeks, maybe months.. alone.

but what i really want is to know:
would that really fix it. would that change anything. if i don't know how i got here, how am i to know what it will take to get out.

May 15, 2011

Love, Kendra.

I walked in my parents house at 1130 last night to find a self-addressed envelope containing the following:

November 16, 2010
Well Kendra- YOU'RE ALIVE! And hopefully you're mere breaths away from being debt-free! And hopefully your Suburu is singing like a champ! And hopefully you're excruciatingly happy on the inside. You and Laura should be closer than ever, your spirit should be more certain of what it wants, needs, feels, is called to.. and you should be on your way toward that, intentionally.
But as of right now-
As of right now I'm about to graduate from ten months of service that I really wasn't convinced I would make it through. Three days and I no longer have health insurance, no longer have to wear a uniform, no longer make $176 a week- no, every two weeks! No longer drive a government vehicle, wear steel-toe boots, and call an old psych ward "home". In fact in three days I'll be off for the next adventure- a four day roadtrip/excursion with this kid called Man Cub who somehow got ahold of me this last round. I've not understood a lot of it, but there are times, also, when it makes so very much sense and sits so perfectly with my soul. He's good for me and bad for me at the same time. But evenso, I feel it's been good, it's been right.. and somehow it's been beautiful. Is this going to last forever? No. It's not. Do I hope I always know him? Yes. I do. Because he's helped me in so many ways. My confidence has returned, but with it has come a meekness that sometimes makes me feel beautiful. He's shown me, subtly, how I'm special, different, wonderful. He's let me be free.. to really be me. Perhaps I'm learning how to feel, how to let myself feel for me.. how to let someone else make me feel. I've felt the weightiness of the world around me but rarely have I been comfortable letting the world around me feel for me. I have a hard time believing it's love, but I absolutely believe it's positive, worthwhile, meaningful, and good.
So by the time I get this letter it will be May. My 285 days of national service will be long past. How will I remember this? Will I remember the painstaking days at Mason Neck? The over-crowded days in the trailer? The heartwretching weeks in Camden? Will I remember what it felt like to be alive and dead at the same time- sitting on our row-house roof, pounding through the trails in Virginia, laying in the grass en route to Lake Charles, LA. Will I remember 4th round as a person or an experience? It was both.
I hope I explored the realm of music and the piano and the way they play with my spirit.. alot. Alot.
I hope I'm still running. Alot. I hope 18 miles is still an adventure I want, need, and have. I hope my family is still an integral part of my life and that I know and love them even more than I do right now. I hope I'm learning life, love, spirit, body. I hope I'm confident as I am. Kendra, you're more than a body. You're more than a list of what you've done. You're more than a ball of potential. You're someone trying to understand who you are and what that means in the world you've found yourself in. You're broken. I hope you always are. But that's part of what makes you really beautiful.
Perhaps you've found where you belong. If not, keep finding yourself.. keep finding your God.. and trust that one day you'll be home.
These last ten months have developed me more than changed me. I'm still me, moreso than ever, maybe. I'm not trying to be anything, I just am. And that sure feels good.
I hope you're still drinking wine out of coconuts. Promise me you'll always drink wine from coconuts. Promise me you'll always read books that stretch you. Promise me you'll always sleep outside when you can and that no matter the weather, you'll jump in the sea.
Remember the Atlantic, and how it loved you. Remember Allen's guitar. Remember the dolphins, the sea-turtles, the dumpster-diving, the way the ocean rose to kiss you goodbye that last morning in Virginia Beach.. before you waved goodbye to the rising sun, and ran away.
Life is beautiful. Even when it hurts. Even when it sucks. Remember that. Remember Kate, Liz, Puck, Mary, Rob, Heather, Michelle, Kenny, Josh, Nick, Zais, Buck. Remember this crazy place, these absurd people.
And carry on.

May 8, 2011


there should be more searching for the perfect word because
the perfect word doesn't exist; a word rises and falls and its not enough because the moment is exquisite and exquisite is a color a weight a sensation, not a word.
if i buy an orchid without smelling it did i miss the tropical room the squeaking shopping carts the echo off the stained cement floor or the eyes that lit and burned like a cheap match for 6 seconds at the register. did i miss the moment. for "the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks... your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. conformity explains nothing." at least that's what emerson said and who's to say he's not a god. but God knows what it means to be alive because he's never been dead.
think about that.
if i let my face turn brown in the summer the circles forming under my eyes won't be quite as obvious. and if i don't tell you you won't have any way of knowing that the reason my right eye is often smaller than my left is because there are days and weeks and [sometimes] months when i'd rather do anything but sleep. this is how i know life is good:
it's okay to run without a watch because the numbers don't matter as much as the way my eyes press the bits of gravel glass dirt and dust together when i forget about the miles in the midst of a new discovery somewhere in the center of my chest. i decide love is not acceptance and acceptance is not love, and yet they co-exist, just as i co-exist- a vessel filled only with spirit and a container with no lid saved solely for the collection of people places and ideas. and if i need to be isolated to pursue one thing then is it really the thing which i should be pursuing. and if there are people who make me feel calm then should i separate them from the people who make me rage. must one's every step be conscious or would an unexpected sleep-walk do us all a bit of good every now and again. but if i wake in the middle of the walk will i panic or die or will i see colors i've never seen before. if there's a chance of color i'll take the risk and i'm believing right now that for color there is always a chance.
if you walk into the room and show me a painting and say "see my new poem" i'll look intently but not closely for to analyze is to disect is to rip apart meaning. it wasn't always so for me but i'm quite wise now and so it is so.
dear dostoyevsky, you've shown me there is no such thing as writers block; one can always ramble. and if my rambling is fluid enough it becomes a painting and when i paint there are colors never black and white and as long as there is color i know i am alive, and as long as i'm alive, i will live.
but someday i'll make an account for all of this, right? one day i'll have to explain why i did what i did and my greatest fear is that i will hang my head as my heart fills will lead and drops past my feet and i'll cover my face with my uncalloused hands and picture in my clear and open mind the glorious life i could have run for.
or did.

April 22, 2011

someone needs to water the plants.

my coffee tastes like soap. i never do quite get all the suds out of the pot.

despite my scattered thoughts i feel like writing. i've spent two nights at home in the last two weeks. it's this "unsettled" life that brings peace, settlement to my soul. it's what works for me. i wouldn't have it any other way.

coming to rochester was supposed to be my chance to live a normal life, to do normal things and pay my loans off in a normal environment, under normal circumstances. i tried. i have failed, and it's been exquisite.

you look at me and say free-spirit, hippie-sort, earth day every day. it's easy to say those things, isn't it. we don't like to call it this, but we judge. how often it is that we take one glance and write a soul a mind a being before asking any sort of question that would probe a response that might reveal something, anything that might contradict or complicate the person we created. i do it. none of this is new. what's new is this:
i don't notice the way i am perceived anymore.
i spent last weekend at a monastery in the catskills. on the second day i sat in a room with a circle of writers. i missed lunch because of the need to appease a pressing urge to run. post run: i brought a plastic coffee container of hard-boiled eggs with me. after an hour or so in the same stale chair my legs began to itch for movement. i took to the floor, bringing my eggs with me. i cracked my eggs on the table in front of me, letting the shells drop back into the green container. thinking nothing of this i continued to join in the conversation, only to notice the strangest expressions coming from a few of the gathered. it made me aware. i zoomed out, looking down on the scene from a place beyond the stained white ceiling, and chuckled.

when a date becomes wandering through undiscovered forests, pointing out new buds and greens and talking about things i can't remember, i am good. when silence doesn't creep or hang but is assumed and appreciated, i have gotten somewhere.

i'm beautiful. did you know that? the things that make me different aren't done to be different, they're done to be me. i'm realizing that right now that's all i know how to be. my issues are still alive, but i'm more at rest than i've ever been before. i've accepted myself. there isn't a soul i'd rather be. there's no spirit i'd rather have. i want to change and grow and become, but i'm doing all those things.

gosh it feels good to let go. hah!

April 4, 2011

Ode to Shoes


After 9 months, 1,139 recorded miles and probably at least another 230 or so unrecorded miles, I have retired my recent running shoes. (Trust me, this is blog-worthy.)

This time last year I challenged myself to run 12 miles in the Appalachian Mountains outside Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. It turned out the trail was only 9, so I ran the 9 and then challenged myself to run 12 in Lorton, Virginia 6 weeks later. I did it, solo, feeling incredibly accomplished. Two days later I ran a 5:53 mile for a fitness test. Two days after that my knee gave out and while in Louisiana for 6 weeks, I didn't run a step.

Up until this point running had been an escape. When I didn't want to see people, didn't want to be interrupted, when I had too many thoughts and feelings to know what to do with, I ran. In Lorton I often woke up before anyone else and ran 4 or 5 miles before work, worked all day pulling junk out of the woods in the sun, and then ran another 6 to 8 at night. I avoided dinner with my team a number of nights. I escaped the morning breakfast rush, opting rather to do these things on my own, in quiet. My soul was raging and my spirit was confused. Very little made sense to me at this point in my life, so I ran. When I was running I felt quiet. My thoughts made sense, and though I ended in the same place I started, I knew I had gotten somewhere.

One of my first runs after my 6 week haitus in Louisiana was a "Technical Trail Race" in Pennsylvania. For 6.2 miles I ascended and descended a mountain of rough, rugged terrain.

Exhausted. Depleted.

I was hooked.

The following 6 weeks I woke up almost every morning and ran to the Camden waterfront or into Philadelphia. Crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge I had this intense sense of touching down on ground that held knowledge of things I would never know or understand no matter how long I lived there.

What I was experiencing in Camden brought a rush of audacity to everything I did, including running. Was it smart to run alone at 6am through the streets of the most dangerous city in the US? No. It wasn't. But I did it. Without a phone, without a knife, without pepper spray. Early morning was the only time Camden felt quiet, but even in the quiet it never felt calm. There was always something stirring, an eeriness to the quiet for me on those mornings that I would step off my porch onto the street, say goodmorning to the man who was always sitting on the porch across the street. He didn't have legs. Every morning he said to me "go go go! run!" And I ran. Strange as it is, the thing that brought me the most peace on those runs was running past the homeless asleep on the benches by the river. It was their world. Did I exist?

I didn't run for a week after returning to Maryland. I spent the majority of every day for a week in bed, sick for no logical reason other than that for the second time in my life, a city had wrecked me, leaving my happy healthy world in shards.

And then I met The Guys.

The guys who released me into the world of adventure running. We met outside building 9H at 7pm and returned 14 miles later, well past dark. I couldn't sleep that night. Or the next after yet another night of running into the darkness, pausing along the water, running roads I had never run into towns I didn't know existed. They ran to explore, to discover, to be together and alone, to be a part of something and untouchable. After three days of this we met the "Trail Dogs" in Delaware at 6am and I ran my first marathon, trails. This would be an entirely separate entry. Suffice it to say I hit a state of bliss, a place of flow, that changed me as both a person and a runner. 3 hours in I knew this was something I was made to do.

26.2 miles later, soaked, mud-covered, spent and beaming, I was officially a Ratty One.

I spent the next two months running to explore, running to enjoy the company of another person, running to find lakes and rivers, running to breath the air, running to arrive. I ran to the ocean, along the ocean, to see the sun rise and feel it set. I ran to be alive. One day we ran 18 miles in pursuit of a lake we knew had to exist.. no power bars, electrolyte drinks or energy gels. No water. We just ran.

The body is an incredible thing. When you let it go.

These days I'm learning to run by feel. I don't have a number of miles I want to run in a week. I'm not training for anything in particular. But every time I run something happens in me. I don't have friends to run with right now, but I'm not bored, and I don't feel alone. Sometimes I find new roads, a trail I didn't see the last time.

But the most incredible thing is when I hit that point.. the one I barely recognize because it happens in a state of unawares.. but I hit a point of flow, a point where nothing exists but my breathe, my heart beating, the air around me, in me, and the stirrings of my spirit. Sometimes I find myself whispering in a language only God knows. I am an agent of change in a world I don't belong to, a passerby believing life isn't something we make but rather something we find when we finally, finally let go.

To the places I ran through, the people I ran with, the faces that smiled and the hands that waved. To the rivers I crossed, the sand my feet printed, the birds that sang to me, and the roads that truly do live in my memory. To the girl I was, the girl I've become, the girl I'm becoming. And to the shoes that shared it all.

March 6, 2011


yesterday I ran in pink running shorts and a fluorescent yellow Key West "smile mon" t-shirt. it was 48 degrees and sprinkling when i walked the long way to my car after work. i wanted to walk in the rain all night, but there was no one to do that with, and silly as it sounds even to me, i wanted company.

this morning the 2363 driveway is covered in sand-textured snow. i'm surprised the handle didn't come off when i tried to open the passenger door on my car. ice!

if it was warmer, nicer, brighter out today and the road didn't look treacherous through the window in the door from my floor-bed, i would run, far.

if tomorrow wasn't supposed to be the same as today i would take my day off and head somewhere, anywhere in my car. somewhere, anywhere. it's all the same. everywhere i go i seem to find something worth having and something i don't want at all.

i'm trying hard these days to be optimistic. i'm trying hard to be here. for awhile it didnt feel like trying at all. now, 9 weeks later, i'm trying.

money and working solely for it make me sick. but my debt makes me sicker. so i work on.

i want mountains and endless trails. i want clear air, my tent, some hiking poles and a backpack. i want to sit by a fire completely alone, listening to the sporadic crackling and knowing that while it may not be "normal", there doesn't seem to be much that's more right for me. at least right now. how is it that this life, this normal life, is so difficult for me? very little about it makes sense to me. what if we have it all completely wrong. what if we've built this thing and called it life and so we all subscribe to it and believe that any diversion from this norm we've created is somehow wrong or strange or irresponsible. there, i've said it. and i want to say something else-

i'm not irresponsible. in fact, maybe i'm the most responsible of any of us. why? because i know who i am while recognizing that i have no idea what i'm capable of, i know what i want and that sometimes i'm clueless as to how to help myself, and i know what makes me come alive and am willing to chase fervently after those things. because i'm unwilling to compromise who i am in order to appease people around me with a narrow scope saying that real life can only look a certain way. because even when i'm working 50 hours a week i go for ten mile runs, read books that make me cry, spend hours talking to a friend about how messed up i am and how i really want to change but just the thought of the effort it will take/is taking exhausts me. maybe the irresponsible are the ones who have houses and families and excellent jobs but rarely take a moment to analyze or work on their own person, or to do something or find something that makes them truly happy, or to be aware of a world outside their own.

i say this realizing that all my life i've depended on people with solid jobs and solid lifestyles. i don't at all think the wandering life is ideal or better or "the way" or any of that. it's not. but it's incredibly disrespected by a lot of people. it's seen as lazy, avoidance, unfit, unsuitable, not really living. they say when i'm 70 and still have to work because i don't have any retirement that i'll wish i had done something with my life. maybe i will. or maybe i'll never stop doing something with my life. maybe when i'm 70 i'll have my tent in the woods and i'll grow vegetables and be contented. or maybe i'll be going strong, speaking life into beautiful people in developing nations or messed up cities who have no one else to believe for them, who've been told they're a waste and that their lives are somehow unfit.

we create our own ideals. i've decided that much for sure. this "ideal" life of working everyday doing something i could care less about so i have money in the bank and cash in my wallet and new stuff piling up in my closet, it doesn't do much for me. i prefer my $1 turnips from the market to all the steak in a steakhouse. (truly!) i prefer mountain air to mall air and ocean water to chlorine. i prefer to bathe in a lake than a shower, prefer to smell like smoke than perfume.

and within this same body is a girl who glows when she puts on skinny jeans, pulls on her black leather boots, and straightens her hair. she takes mink coats for rich ladies and serves bloody mary's and mimosa's at artistic soiree's on saturdays. she smiles politely, jokes properly, quietly refills the shrimp coctail, and knows she is captivating.

it's the same girl who can no longer sleep in a bed, eats tuna out of the can for the protein, and could at any moment decide to head out.

February 21, 2011

Good Stuffs.

I'm sitting in my office in the RTS mechanics shop eating hummus and pretzels. I very well could be the first person to walk a tupperware packed to the brim with home-made hummus into this building.

Yesterday I went for a run simply to be in the sun. I started out aggitated and ended calm. That's why I run.

I took a hot shower, put on my sweatpants, made a half a pot of coffee, opened every blind in the house, and lit some incense. Music seemed to be the next step. I fiddled and faddles with the DVD player but Jason Upton would not sing. Five minutes later I looked at the window of light illuminating the couch and decided maybe this was exactly what I needed, exactly what I'd been avoiding for months- a completely quiet house with nothing to distract me from my self. I crawled onto the couch and sat in that section of sun. It warmed me completely and instantly. I sat there for almost two hours, drinking coffee, writing notes, thinking.
coffee brewing, incense burning, books and notebooks laying open around me..

THAT'S what I've been missing in my life. That's what I crave.

Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Truman Capote:

I've read that past and future are a spiral, one coil containing the next and predicting its theme. Perhaps this is so; but my own life has seemed to me more a series of closed circles, rings that do not evolve with the freedom of a spiral: for me to get from one to the other has meant a leap, not a glide. What weakens me is the lull between, the wait before I know where to jump.

And then there's the sustenance:

Blessed is the man who listens to me,
watching daily at my doors,
waiting at my doorway.
For whoever finds me, finds life
and receives favor from the LORD.

-Proverbs 8

February 18, 2011

Madonna wrote a book

called The English Roses.

I read it on the hardwood floor of one of my dearest friends apartments while drinking coffee out of a clay mug that she made. It didn't have a handle.

She left for work before 7 and I left shortly after, but first I sat in the calm of the morning in a home I had entered only hours before surrounded by her - books, scarves, photographs. I balanced perfectly on an imperceptible line distinguishing hers from mine.
I think that's home.

Marilyn Monroe watched me. I'm quite sure she approved.

February 13, 2011


How do I begin, other than to say:

I'm back (by popular demand, ahem KERRI!).

This has been my life. Every person with whom I've partaken of this thing called living, every place I've called home whether in passing or for a time, every mile I've run both alone and in company, every mountain I've summited be it for a view or blanket of gray, every bag I've packed with things I've needed and things I've wanted, every manhatten I've sipped and every cigar I've smoked, every batch of granola I've baked, every ridiculous story of being stuck in stairwells and sleeping in garages and eating out of coconuts. Every Milky Way seen from every swamp, forest and sand-dune previously unnoticed on a map...
That collision point of insignificance and significance that I find on the shore of the ocean- the shore that I called home as I unrolled my sleeping bag, the same shore that stretched me to liberation at the tip of Florida; I am changed... and the Atlantic is home.
The way the air moves at the highest point of a peak. My heart moved too.
shifts and swirls and aches and calm.
(become still enough for long enough; there is always calm).
My soul sings for the children playing in the firehydrants
and for the mornings and the nights with my only friend the sky.

My confession:
I've failed-
my God and my self.
But this is life. and I'll die knowing I lived. I took chances. I let my mind and my soul and my spirit be challenged. I believed what I believed because I tested, tried, and experienced it, not because someone told me I should or because I modeled my life after and adopted the many mindsets of a man.

I've made mistakes, a lot of them. Somewhere in the past 2 years of meeting people and discovering the sense and meaning of place, I became someone I don't want to be. My open mind opened itself to the point of confusion and frustration and I forgot that self-denial was an option. In some ways I know there's truth in the thought that perhaps I'm better now than I was two years ago. The things I've seen that have sent me to the place of deep disatisfaction and misunderstanding are also the things that have promised me that life is a whole lot deeper than most of us are living.

I have much to say. I have thoughts on people- on relationships, individualism, purpose. I have thoughts on places- on being here and being everywhere and finding a definition for home.

I have thoughts on dreadlocks and business suits, on dirty needles and breakfast thursday.

I have thoughts on the FACT that I have the most incredible, selfless, true friends imaginable. They say to me "I don't care if this offends you," and I receive.

I have hope that tomorrow I will find life in a new way.

For right now my soul aches. It's been aching for days. This has been my life. Every moment I can't take back, every moment I wish would linger..

This is my life.
I've lived this.

(absorb that, oh my soul...)

*to all who came to celebrate today, thank you. I am at rest and on edge as I lay here in my floor-bed. you make me want to be better.. you crazy Lovers, you!*

January 5, 2011

extra Ginger in that Tea, please.

To know something and to realize something are different things. I've known that I've changed, but today I realized how much. It happened slowly over the course of the two years since I graduated from college. When it happens like that it's easy not to notice.

I'm an ant in a jar in a mall. I eat crackers out of a coconut shell (it makes sense to me). This tiny, uninsulated room is excessive. I can't find much that's healthy about joining a "health club". When the sun comes out I go for a run because I need sun, and I can't get enough air.

I feel calm and more beautiful than I've ever felt. Perhaps it's the merlot, though I felt this way at 6am as well. This state of no longer being a slave to my body or a result of my mind lets me look out a cafe window and see and feel a town for what it is.

Some days I want to be a musician - to spend all day writing lyrics about life the way I've bore witness to it, the way it's made my heart lurch beat jitter jump sway and stay. Other days I want to be a bartender dressed in black, sexy and sleek and simple. Most every day I want to pick up a dirty needle off a dirty street and look over my shoulder as I walk from Camden to Phily. Always I want to believe in glory, and when I see the way the sun sets on a forest in winter, the way the browns and whites become bronze and gold and the mountains disappear from top to bottom, I do.

My heals hurt from my hiking shoes. But if you point to a peak I'll walk with you to the top. Home is somewhere up there, and though this spirit be prone to wander, it knows when it's home.

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