It’s blistering, sweltering, melting today.
Who would run 100 miles this way?
Who scrambles to qualify for a coveted spot
To be one of the chosen to roast in this pot?
Who waited expectantly as each name was pulled
From a lottery six months ago when there was snow?
Who trained through storms, through nights, through sleet
Miles and miles preparing for today’s heat?
Now running and dreaming, a States buckle in mind
While we, the pacers, bide our time
Waiting impatiently on the side lines
We pack, we rest, we try to hydrate
We sit, we pace, we wonder and wait
Will our runner beat the dread of the clock?
Will he make the next aid station time cut off?
When they show up, we’re ready to go
With energy stored, and headlamps a glow
Full pace and pulling the encouraging friend
Or drill sergeant yelling to the bitter end.
The lure of the finish is what we all taste
For a crazy ultra-runner and crew
At a hot Western States.
I am so ready to be home. I want to see my cat. I want to touch the sprouts of my newly planted vineyard. I want to eat healthy food out of my own refrigerator. I want to run.
And here I sit in McCarran airport surrounded by slot machines and people who look nothing like me. They are in heels, dresses, leggings with perfect makeup, perfect hair and fashion that has not quite made it to my house in the hills or the home I’ve been rebuilding in the bayou.
Somehow in either of those two places I fit in just fine in my tennies and jeans. But in traveling between the two I can clearly see that my style, like my homes, is in need of an update. My hair, my makeup and my clothes seem to align with an older, more comfortable crowd, and even that group could give me a few fashion tips. Here in Vegas competing with the glitz and ringing machines I am virtually invisible.
Something happens when you retire and are no longer required to get dressed and do your make-up go to work everyday. I still keep a schedule that uses my days pretty efficiently, waking up, having coffee and eventually getting to the work of my own desire, but I no longer feel the need to be well dressed to accomplish that. Heck, I’m happy to just be clean, which can be a major accomplishment when you are rebuilding a house that spent three weeks under water, or digging elbow deep in clay soil planting your baby vines.
But I’m happy. Really happy. Happy in a way that I was sure existed, but used to only dream of achieving. Years and years of deadlines and stress leading to this life are all a distant memory to me now. Spending my days with my husband working on our projects, or out on trails running with my friends is really my idea of a perfect life. So I’m not stylish and could use a good make over, I think there’s still time for that. For now my tennies and jeans will do just fine.
It’s hard to see you lying there
wide eyed, staring, mouth agape
at something only you can see
floating high up in the ceiling
requiring your full focus.
It’s hard to know what to say
if you can hear the words
as I whisper your name
along side your bed
leaning closer to your ear
saying how much you are loved.
It’s hard to watch you thrash about
when I hold your hand
recounting my silly foibles
and laughing a little too loudly
hoping you’ll know it’s me.
It’s hard to believe you are here
confined to this bed
locked in this betraying body,
the same one that flew midair
trailed by swirling silk scarfs
as you leapt from your circus trapeze.
It’s hard to believe
you have survived and thrived
beyond the Nation’s worse disaster
coming out the sweet southern rose
with dignity and grace from above.
It’s hard to watch your beloved
caring, so gently, touching, cooing
in a way I have not seen,
promising a future of wellness
in days and days at home.
It’s hard to wonder how you feel
what you think, if you’re scared,
if you even know we are here.
It’s just hard.
The road reaches out before me in bright
Crystal highway, sparkling sun, radiant
Burst, blinding rays. Days on days into night
My constant companion, invariant
Black top. Don’t stop rolling beneath my seat
Transport my weary soul to meet my dreams
Down this long road, somewhere warm, some place sweet
Guided by your broken white highway seams
The crowd they come and duly find their route
Distance drawing I remain steady fast
Fast they come, blinking, weaving, in and out
Fast I hold my place, sure to be the last
Till clear road stretches light and bright again
Pulls forward, one more mile closer to my end.
Gentle swirling little one searching endlessly in the night
Will you let me take you in, keep you warm, hold you tight?
Sometimes I see you, seeing me, wondering if I’m alright
How would you know that it’s okay? I am fine. I don’t bite.
You prowl alone, you sleep alone, you perk your ears on guard
How long have you been here alone hiding in my backyard?
I sit away to watch you play, and extend an inviting hand
You leap, straight up, arms spread mid-air, then stick a perfect land
Funny how you came to me, funny you knew I’d be here
Waiting for you, while you looked for me through eyes clouded with fear
So take your time, for wait I will, to earn your trust and tame
Hello, sweet girl, I’m CCL, can you tell me now your name?
The real question is …. When should you stop wearing a bikini? It doesn’t seem to be that big of a question to fashion columnists or most other women my age. The fashion magazines say no one over thirty belongs in one and apparently my peers have bought into this edict. But not me, no sir. Instead I cling with fading hope to my itsy, bitsy, teeny, weenie, one size larger this year bikini.
Maybe the real question is whether or not I actually belonged in one in the first place. I’ve never had the perfect swimsuit shape. Perhaps it’s this acceptance of imperfection that has in the long run blurred the lines of appropriateness for me.
One day I’ll be laying on a beach in Catalina sipping margaritas with a friend, surrounded by firmer but less confident twenty-something’s and thinking I’m doing just fine in my little black suit. And then one week later I’ll see a photo of a Mexican beached whale and gasp when I realize that muffin top whale roll belongs to me.
It’s not just a size factor, there’s also the age issue. At 40 I could convince myself that those magazine articles were just wrong, but at 50 maybe I’m the one that’s wrong.
Still, each time I head to the beach I reach for the fun, string held, two piece suit instead of a more sensible form of cover. It’s just not time yet. I’m just not ready to retire the attire of my youth. Maybe when I’m 60. Who knows…maybe not.
Today the water is flat, outside my third floor patio perch, two blocks back, with hot coffee and Kahlua in hand. The days roll out slowly like this. Birds greeting the morning sun, and one by one my companions join me stretching from their slumber with bed head hair and rumpled clothes.
The mornings are peaceful and reflective. We speak in quiet tones and walk with gentle feet making up for the celebrating and poolside noodle dancing of the night before. Ah, the noodle dance, an interpretive new genre of movement that is part ballet and modern flow combined with exotic dance, all done with the aid of a bright pink floatie noodle. It’s silly and all fun till someone gets hurt. This time it was me who took the tumble after a particularly challenging one foot balancing move. So much for the noodle dance.
So this morning we wander each in our own silence. We gather scattered clothes. We whisper good mornings and listen to the soft roll of the water as it meets the shore.
Mexico days let us forget our other-side border lives. We waken slowly, play like children and spend hours floating in the flat surf on pink noodles while dolphins take turns dancing for us. I think they are hoping to borrow my noodle too.