Tuesday, September 23, 2014

No Longer Virgin



Two weeks ago I ran a 13.1 mile race delightfully called a Diva Half Marathon. It was not my first time. My first half was in Greenville, SC in 2011.

After having Hollie in 2008, I went back to running in an attempt to lose the baby weight. When the first 30 pounds came off but nothing else did, I thought adding mileage was the way to shed more weight.
Post-race selfie with HB. Not for use by any other site.

What’s amazing to me is not that I was able to log the training hours or that I completed the race, but that the motivation for taking on such a thing was so ridiculously na├»ve.

Running to lose weight will not take you 13.1 miles.

There must be some other motivation. Some other voice in your head daring you to see if you can actually achieve such a thing. The miles are just too long and the effort just too hard to rely on the calorie burn as motivation.

On my second attempt at the half, I was reminded of another second and possessed by the same terrible apathy that I felt at sixteen.

Like half marathon training, giving up my virginity was done for the silliest of reasons: my boyfriend said he loved me. He was good enough to say it while he was peeling my clothes off so that I confused what was happening with affection, security, and romance.

The first time was the result of one of those after school make-out sessions that went a bit too far. I must have looked dazed afterward because Matt Brown said to me, “You understand what happened, right?”

I can remember with startling clarity the second time I had sex.

A couple of days later he took me to a motel so we could do it right. There were candles and shower play and cuddling afterward and all the other intimacy things that we’d seen in movies.

It didn’t change the first time, but it managed to overshadow the memory.

Like that motel experience, this summer’s prep for the 13.1 had all the trimmings of what the first time is supposed to look like:

I bought new shoes.
Me: "That was really hard." HB: "Can I wear your crown?"

I used an app to Map My Runs.

I had a training schedule.

I kept track of gear that worked and gear that failed.

I measured the impact of gel blocks and scheduled them by mileage.

I tested how long my playlist was and how long it needed to be.

I shared my goal with my friends so I could gain their support.

I treated even the minor ticks and soreness as major injuries and iced and wrapped and ultra-sound healed them.

But for all the worrying and chatting, this second experience was still just the no-longer-virgin version of a bad idea.

If I really work that memory, I can be honest about the quality of the motel, the cleanliness of the room, the fumbling between us, and the fear that still gave me pause even though the deed had already been done.

If I’m really honest about the experience, I can say I didn’t really want it but I didn’t really know what other options I had. One can only go so far before going a little further seems inevitable.

And still there’s something so familiar about the disappointing ache I felt leading up to the Diva race and that lingers now it’s over. In the aftermath, I kept saying, “so that’s it?”

I mean, I’ve done it before, why not do it again?

It’s the worst kind of apathy. The kind that has no hope of derailing the intentions but has the power to make bitter the experience.

I dreaded the race and even came close to backing out Friday night.

But I didn’t.

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and dressed and got Hollie up and dressed and we drove out to Leesburg, Virginia, and stood in the early morning chill of September. And I ran.

I ran the first six miles without walking.

I ran the next four with water station walks.

I ran the last three in a lot of pain.

At the end I said, “That was really fucking hard,” because it was.
Jillian and I help Tami cross the finish line.

But I didn’t quit. I didn’t give up. And my apathy didn’t last. It was replaced by something resembling determination.

On Monday, en route to Maine, the guy on the plane next to me, seeing my issue of Runner’s World magazine said, “Are you a runner?”

Yes, I am. And no longer virgin about it. I may even slap that 13.1 sticker on the back of my car.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Raising a Fighter



Hollie’s a picky eater. She’s got the foods she likes and she sticks with them. She’s an only child. She likes her alone time. She’s also an independent child. She doesn’t like being bossed around by me and Charlie.

More than once on vacation we found ourselves in a standoff with Hollie.

Over going to play golf. She didn’t want to. We did.

Over leaving the wave pool at the water park. She didn’t want to. We did.

Over going out for dinner. She didn’t want to. We did.

Over eating what she’d ordered. She refused.

Over leaving the Hilton Resort Orlando after checkout on Thursday. We had to.

We fight over brushing her hair.

We fight over brushing her teeth.

These days it seems like we fight about pretty much everything. Which is a good thing. It means she trusts us enough to state her desires with some confidence they’ll be met.

It means she has specific desires and is learning how to rationally explain those desires. 

I ask questions to get her to elaborate on her logic. I sometimes let her win.

Being willing to fight means she’s assertive enough to get what she wants. It means she won't be bullied, go along with the crowd, or believe her wants don’t matter.

Then, last week, I read this blog post about letting a little girl say “no.” And I did what I think the blogger wanted me to do, I really thought about it.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Charlie turned 40 this Summer



By the time I met him, Charlie had the confidence that comes from knowing you’re somebody worth knowing. He says I was a diamond in the rough but maybe I just hadn’t acquired that confidence yet. 

He was 22 to my 19 and he was not my usual post-grunge artist-type boyfriend. He was always a clean cut, tattoo-free, Southern boy who said “ma’am” and “sir” and knew which color orange was the right color orange.

After taking our private jet flight with DTC
On his 30th birthday, I threw Charlie a surprise party. Many of the people who read this will remember it, they were there.

He had taken a job with Discount Tire and was a full nine months in and dedicated to the company and the work. It was a Saturday afternoon and I’d asked his boss to let him leave early. But Charlie sent his senior home instead, said the man had kids to get to and all he had was a bar full of drunks.

We laid a long piece of butcher paper on a table and wrote, “In my next 30 years,” across it. Everyone signed with the predictions about what those next 30 years would bring.

It’s been ten years since then. 

We’re a third of the way toward those goals we had when Charlie turned 30.

Some of them, our home, our daughter, his career with Discount Tire, have come true. Others, my PhD, my self-employment, our country club membership, were unnamed, unimagined 10 years ago.

So much has happened and so much has remained the same. 

Charlie with the Bretts at Wicker's wedding
He’s still my best friend. The one I want to share everything with the minute it happens.

We still have very different hobbies. He’s dedicated to TigerNet and all things Clemson. I like to read novels and write short stories.

He likes to watch TV, any stories they broadcast are good enough for him, especially if it’s the military, history, or National Geographic channels.

I like to run. Three miles, five, seven when I can. I like spin class and swimming.

He likes naps. He’s been known to pull a hat trick (three naps in one day).

We have things we like to do together, too.
With Hollie at the Orange & White game 2014

We sneak mini bottles of wine into the movie theater to see blockbusters like Spiderman and Oscar nods like American Hustle.

We play golf on Sundays, teeing off before the faithful can read the epistle and three beers in before the congregation says the last Amen.

We like a really good meal with a bottle of wine, appetizers, expensive entrees, and dessert.

We debate the uselessness of congress and the idiocy of legislating morality.

We love our friends and cherish our families. We cherish one another.

This summer we’ve been separated more than we’d like.

There was an eight week stretch where I was gone every other week. 

And we knew, before it happened, that it would be tough. 

But we did what we always do: we talked through it. 

Every minute of it.

What works. What doesn’t. What we can live with. What must change.


Hawaii 2013 Mood-Improved

He’s forty now and he’s the manager of a store where people depend on him. At home we depend on him. And he’s dependable.

He’s forty now and he’s father to a daughter with an independent spirit and husband to a Lean In career woman. And he’s good at giving us a base for jumping off. 

He’s also a soft place to land.

He’s forty now and we’ve grown up together, Charlie and me. When I chose this partner for my life I wasn’t sure what that life would look like. But I’m grateful he’s there to witness it, to influence it, to shape it and be part of it.

Happy birthday, Chuck. On your 60th birthday we’ll roll out butcher paper and write, “Remember When…”

Remember when 30 seemed so old?