I decide to run.
This is against the will of half my brain and most of my body. But I Have Decided. Because I need to do this. To step out of my mind and onto the ground.
I walk outside and witness Indiana coming to life. Garage Doors are thrown open, music is playing from car speakers, people are raking leaves uncovered by the thankfully-melted snow. This harshest of winters is giving us a reprieve, and the hardy people who call this place home are basking in its glow.
I try the sidewalks…but the piles of occasional snow force me onto the street, which is fine because Indiana is nothing if not Home Of The Careful Driver.
The mailman waves at me, and I wave back.
A homeowner emerging from his gloriously open garage waves at me, and I wave back.
An old fellow shoveling ice and I joke that we’re both getting our exercise today. Everyone is warm here, even when it’s cold. And when it’s warm, they practically blossom, throwing open garage doors in symbolic celebration.
My run becomes an anthropological study of my temporary neighborhood in America’s heartland. I take in the architecture. The tidiness. The inhabitants’ habits. I am confused by the green grass. It was just under snow. Shouldn’t it be brown? I can’t say I fully understand willingly living in such a harsh environment, but I see the joy of being here when it lurches into Spring. Is that an invisible red badge of courage on your lapel, Sir, for surviving winter?
I turn and run against the wind, sending painfully sharp air into my throat. I make note that this is probably not wise for a vocalist, even if 50 degrees doesn’t SEEM cold when you are standing still. I’m already tired but push on, for I’ve committed to doing one mile on this day. It’s the deal I made with my protesting mind and body. Just a mile. I need to outrun the fatigue and I need to outrun the darkness. I debate stepping on grass versus pavement instead of metaphorical steps. I focus on the mile, not the uncharted journey. The ache in my throat distracts me from a vague ache in my chest. Run long enough and all you think of is the run.
I run through several side yards, which I firmly believe will not offend the polite Hoosiers. And when I run back to my for-now home, I walk around it like a real-life homeowner, picking up random trash revealed by the vanishing snow, feeling more grounded and present in my present. I prefer to leave things better than I found them.
Tomorrow, I will run again and outrun for a while the uncountable arrows flying at my heart flung by the hand of my own head. Aren’t tormented artists just the best?
I may need to make it two miles.